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Brother and Sister Light Children’s Tree to Kick off Holiday Season

Santa Claus at Atrium Health Navicent.

Cassius and Anais Finch shared the spotlight when they lit the Children’s Christmas Tree for Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital’s annual holiday tradition, “A Night of Lights” on Nov. 29.

 

“A Night of Lights celebrates our young patients and their loved ones, while sharing the joy of the season with our community. This delightful tree serves as a symbol of hope for our patients all throughout the holiday season,” said Atrium Health Navicent Chief Nurse Executive Tracey Blalock. “By lighting the Children’s Tree, we recognize our brave young patients — and their loved ones — at Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital.”

 

Cassius Finch

Cassius, 10, was diagnosed shortly after birth with sickle cell disease, an inherited form of anemia caused when the body does not produce enough healthy red blood cells to adequately carry oxygen throughout the body. Red blood cells are normally round and flexible, easily moving through the body’s blood vessels. For patients with sickle cell disease, however, red blood cells become rigid, sticky and shaped like crescent moons. The irregular cells may become stuck in small blood vessels, which may slow or block blood flow and oxygen to various parts of the body.

 

He also receives treatment for panhypopituitarism, a condition in which his pituitary gland doesn’t make the hormones to control his thyroid and cortisol levels.

 

When his family moved to Macon about six years ago, Cassius became established with HOPE for Kids (Hematology Oncology Place of Excellence) which serves children with cancer and blood disorders. In addition to monthly transfusions, Cassius receives treatment from Atrium Health Navicent pediatric endocrinology, gastroenterology, neurology, behavioral health doctors and has spent time in the pediatric intensive care unit and pediatric emergency room.

 

A student at McKibben Lane Elementary, Cassius is an honor roll student, and an amazing artist who loves to draw, his mother, Vernita Finch said.

 

Anais Finch

His sister, 8-year-old Anais, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2019.

 

Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which the body can’t make enough insulin, or can’t use insulin normally. Insulin is a hormone that helps sugar (or glucose) in the blood get into cells of the body to be used as fuel. When glucose can’t enter the cells, it builds up in the blood. This is called high blood sugar and can cause problems all over the body.

 

Anais spent four days at Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital, where her family learned how to care for her and monitor her blood sugar. Anais now has regular follow ups with Atrium Health Navicent Children’s Care Pediatric Endocrinology, and is beginning to learn how to manage her condition on her own. She attended Little Shot of Camp Kudzu this summer, a special camp for children living with Type 1 diabetes that was funded by the Navicent Health Foundation.  

 

“I don’t know where we’d be without Atrium Health Navicent,” Finch said of the care her children received. “From nurses to child life specialists to doctors, everybody there is amazing.”

 

Central and south Georgia’s dedicated pediatric hospital

 In 2023 alone, the hospital’s pediatric emergency center has offered care through more than 18,000 visits. Nearly 18,000 radiology procedures have provided pediatric diagnostic services, and doctors have performed about 3,000 surgeries and endoscopic procedures. 

 

New doctors have joined the team, and the children’s hospital is actively recruiting additional specialists to expand access to care close to home. A partnership with Phoebe Putney Health System in southwest Georgia continues to help even more children receive the care they need closer to their homes.

 

The milk depot at Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital will soon begin its third year of collecting donated breastmilk from local mothers, which is processed via a partnership with the Kings Daughters Milk Bank and distributed to infants in need of nutritional support.

 

Thanks to the Navicent Health Foundation and generous community donations, the neonatal intensive care unit has additional beds this year to provide specialized care for critically ill babies.

 

“The care we provide here goes beyond providing child-sized versions of equipment or doses of medication. Our teammates provide care that’s tailored to children’s bodies and their needs, whether it’s a medical procedure or assistance from a child life specialist who helps take a child’s mind off the stress of their condition or procedure. It’s all about kids and providing them with the best care for a brighter future,” Blalock said at the ceremony.

 

For more information about services for children, visit childrenshospitalnh.org.

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