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  • Lotsy Dotsy and Charlotte Nathanson at 2022 Joe D Fairy Tale Ball

    18th Annual Diamond Angels Fairy Tale Ball Raises More Than $850,000 for Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital

    More than 800 guests recently joined Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital CEO Caitlin Stella at the 18th Annual Diamond Angels Fairy Tale Ball at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood. The Adventures in the Jungle-themed event – chaired by Heather Geronemus, senior director of Social Equity, Opportunity and Impact at UKG – raised more than $850,000 for the children’s hospital.

    Guests enjoyed a fabulous evening that included a craft cocktail reception, dinner, dancing, a spectacular silent auction, and live entertainment provided by Kenny Metcalf as Elton and The Early Years Band – America’s #1 Tribute to Elton John. Since its inception, the gala has raised more than $8 million to support programs, services, and facilities for children and families at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.

    Leah Carpenter and Scott Wester

    The Diamond Angels of Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundation are a membership group formed in 2004 that plan the annual event. The role of the group is to advocate for Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and support the hospital’s mission to provide safe and high-quality, patient and family-centered care to all children and families, regardless of ability to pay. Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital has a long history of improving the health and well-being of children and families in the community and the Diamond Angels are proud to support it. The annual event – the Fairy Tale Ball – is their main fundraiser.

    Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital is one of the nation’s leading pediatric hospitals, offering a comprehensive scope of healthcare services and programs in a caring, compassionate setting designed specifically for children. A level one trauma center, it combines advanced technology, the expertise of board-certified specialists, and a patient and family-centered approach to heal the body, mind, and spirit of those in its care.

    The hospital’s nonprofit foundation focuses on philanthropy to positively impact patients, families, and underwrite programs, facilities, and equipment that support the ‘Joe D.’ mission.

    To learn more or donate, visit our Give Back page.

  • Joe D exterior at twilight

    A Labor of Love on a Project With Heart

    There were moments of joy, gratitude, anticipation, and more than a few tears during the approximately six years I actively worked with Memorial Healthcare System leadership and teams to make the expansion of Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital a reality. Many of us got misty-eyed during the topping-off ceremony last year when the final beam was put in place; while watching a flyover video showing signage being added to the building’s exterior; and, most recently, as our clinical team moved some of the sickest patients across the skyway from the Memorial Regional Hospital side of the street.

    In what is so far the most impactful project of my career, our teams not only expanded the children’s hospital from four floors to eight, but did it while the facility maintained the highest standards of quality and safety for patients, families, and staff. Even with construction taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic, the $166 million dollar project was completed on time and within its budget.

    Planning for the Future

    Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital became a free-standing facility in 2011, but even then it was assumed it would grow beyond its four floors as the demand for specialized pediatric services, surgical capabilities, treatments, and programs increased in South Florida.

    Within three years, conversation began about a vertical expansion and by 2016 the architectural firm HKS was engaged, beginning the design and permitting process. Robins & Morton were hired as general contractors in 2019, with construction beginning in 2020, just prior to COVID shutting down the project for three months.

    While the pandemic impacted everyone in healthcare in immeasurable ways, we were fortunate to be able to carry on during the worst of the crisis. After the early shutdown, when we hadn’t yet put the proverbial shovel in the ground, advanced planning by our internal construction services team helped avoid many of the supply chain issues and cost escalations that plagued other construction projects at that time.

    While there were ultimately some challenges securing all the equipment and specific items the 400,000 square foot building required, nothing derailed our long-term timeline.

    Through it all, our goal was to minimize the impact of the work on those within the facility. That took significant coordination with the contractor, and an understanding that some of the loudest aspects of the build could only be done for short periods at certain times. We accounted for the need for patients to heal and families to rest, accommodated surgical schedules, and adapted when entrances, elevators, and parking were compromised.

    Fresh Perspective

    Since the opening of the new floors last month, I’ve had some time to reflect. And while many of my days and nights during the last two and a half years have been filled with thoughts about structural engineering, infrastructure (electricity, sewage, utilities, etc.), and vendor coordination, I’m now left with the lasting legacy of what we’ve created for patients and families:

    • High-tech environments that improve integration within the surgical floors, including an enhanced interventional radiology suite and hybrid, cardiac operating rooms that can simultaneously accommodate both catheter-based procedures and traditional surgeries.
    • Innovative technology that offers real-time magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) during brain surgeries.
    • An inpatient rehabilitation gym with an outdoor terrace, several therapeutic rooms, a sensory room, a Virtual Reality treadmill, and a Bioness Vector Track.
    • A Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Child Life Zone, made possible in part by a generous donation from the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation, with a daily itinerary of activities and exhibits for kids of all ages, expressive and therapeutic play areas, production space for in-house “Joe D. TV,” and open places to host yoga, music, art, and special events.
    • Larger and more efficient space for the pediatric pharmacy.
    • Expanded pediatric ICU capabilities.

    Lessons Learned

    A project of this size and scope is only possible with good planning and great partners. That includes the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundation, whose “Catch the Love” capital campaign underwrote more than a third of the overall cost.

    Internal and external organizations that align with your mission and values become the relationships critical to success over the course of months and years. These strong alliances keep work on track, within budget, and enable results far beyond what could have been accomplished in individual silos.

    I’m fulfilled knowing what we’ve done will have life-changing and life-saving impact. And, speaking for all those who feel they’ve left a piece of their heart in that building, that’s all they ever wanted.

    Scott Singer

    About Scott Singer

    Scott Singer is associate administrator at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, one of the nation’s leading pediatric facilities. Part of the Memorial Healthcare System, the level one trauma center offers a comprehensive scope of healthcare services and programs in a caring, compassionate setting designed specifically for children.

  • Kealy, patient holding toy

    Here for Kealy and Her Family in the Moments that Count

    “Kealy had some of her first moments at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital,” said Kellie, Kealy’s mom. “She took her first steps in the treatment rooms.”

    At just 10-months-old, Kealy was diagnosed with cancer at the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. She had neuroblastoma, caused by the abnormal development of immature nerve cells, explained Carmen Ballestas, MD, hematologist/oncologist.

    “If you can imagine, you’re telling a family of a 10-month-old that she has this cancer,” said Dr. Ballestas. “It’s pretty disseminated, and she’s going to need a year’s worth of chemotherapy, transplant and radiation.”

    Kealy’s dad, Mike, said Dr. Ballestas really showed the family how much she cared. “She was almost in tears when she described how bad it was,” he said. “I knew that we were in the right place.”

    They always supported our decisions and were transparent with us, Kellie added, relieved by how well Kealy is doing.

    “The two-year mark is a big one for her, and she just had good scans,” said Dr. Ballestas.

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