Support, Education for Parents of Kids with Respiratory Illness

Children with congenital respiratory disorders like cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy require a lot of time, attention and confusing machines and equipment.

After seeing babies taken to the hospital because of nervous parents, HealthCall, a private duty nursing and home care organization based in Royal Oak, created PRESTIGE – a pediatric-focused support group for parents and caregivers of children with respiratory illnesses. It's open to the public and provides free education, information and networking.

"The parents have to do it themselves. That's why it's extremely important that they be confident – because otherwise, you're going to have recurrent hospital admissions," says Sarah Szirtes, general legal counsel for HealthCall. "You've got very nervous parents with a very sick child and a lot of equipment and they don't feel confident."

PRESTIGE, which stands for "Pediatric Respiratory Education and Support Group," touts being the only active support group of its kind in Michigan. Under professional guidance, it connects less-experienced parents to veterans whose children are dealing with similar illnesses.

"We saw babies getting admitted to the hospital within hours of the nurses leaving because if something happened, the moms would get nervous," HealthCall clinical nurse supervisor Emily Yager says. "If another parent says to them, 'Well, my child has something similar,' and they can educate them, there's a better chance of them listening and something being better for them and their child."

The next meetings are 5:30-6:30 p.m. April 24 and June 26 (both Thursdays). They happen every other month at the Royal Oak office, 28000 Woodward Ave., Suite 100. For more or to register, call 800-991-9933 or visit them on the web.

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