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Annual Valentine's Day event celebrates parent caregivers

Monday, February 12, 2018
By Bryan Roth
Valentine's Day

Parents of patients at Duke Children's Hospital and Health Center will get a special Valentine's Day treat this week.

For more than a decade, staff from the Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant's (PBMT) Family Support Group have made it an annual tradition to serve a special holiday dinner for parents. Employees convert a conference room into a dining area, decorated in white and red with signs and special tablecloths. About 30 staff volunteer for the effort, which includes preparing a meal provided from a local restaurant, acting as servers and taking care of kids in their rooms while parents enjoy a date night meal.

The average stay on the PBMT unit is 45 days and at least one parent or guardian is required to be in Durham during that stay, said Kristen Ammon, a Duke Children's nurse manager. 

"You see the relief on the faces of people, being able to sit there and have someone serve them," Ammon said. "It's like they're being transported to another place to enjoy their time together."

Every year around Feb. 14, staff will spend time preparing the dining area and plan a menu that includes chicken, red meat and vegetable options. Parents can order their food ahead of time, which is catered by a local restaurant. This year's event takes place Tuesday, Feb. 13.

"It's hard to realize how important your own well-being is when your focusing on your children," said Tracey Wiwatowski, program director for the PBMT Family Support Program. "By making these parents feel special, it's a good way to remind everyone how even a small thing can make a big difference."

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