Once she warms up to new faces, Zayleigh will talk the ear off a willing listener. But to the astonishment of her caregivers and doctors, the 10-year-old chatterbox never complains about the pain caused by her complex medical condition.
“She is one of the strongest children I’ve ever met in my life,” Aundria Caldwell, her mother, said. “There’s so much that grown-ups need to learn (from her).”
Zayleigh, a long-time patient of Shriners Hospitals for Children Medical Center — Lexington, was born with hemiplegia cerebral palsy (CP), a brain impairment that impacts a person’s ability to control movement and posture. Traveling from her hometown of Morristown, Tennessee, Zayleigh has received ongoing treatment and numerous surgical interventions at Shriners Medical Center to improve her mobility and quality of life. When her head started slumping to the side earlier this year, Caldwell thought the weakness in her neck was related to muscle spasms caused by CP.
In April, Caldwell took Zayleigh to Kentucky Children’s Hospital (KCH) in Lexington, Kentucky, for a follow-up appointment with ear, nose and throat surgeon Kenneth Iverson, M.D., who removed an abscess in Zayleigh's throat in January. Concerned about the possibility of an ongoing infection despite surgical and medical treatment, Iverson conducted an MRI, finding instead overlapping bones in Zayleigh’s neck. He called Zayleigh’s orthopaedic surgeons, Ryan Muchow, M.D., and Scott Riley, M.D., who were located across the street at the new Shriners Medical Center on the University of Kentucky (UK) HealthCare campus.
The surgeons scheduled a surgical procedure to put Zayleigh in halo traction, a long-term therapy to straighten her neck, the following week. Before her surgery, Zayleigh met with Shriners Medical Center nurse Anna Gayle Parke to learn about what to expect during the halo therapy before the surgery. She then transferred to KCH as an inpatient, and after surgery received frequent check-ins from Parke, who was located across the street at Shriners Medical Center.
The proximity of the new Shriners Medical Center, which is adjoined by an overpass to the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital and accessible to inpatient care at Kentucky Children’s Hospital, enabled seamless inpatient treatment and post-surgical care for Zayleigh. In addition, Zayleigh benefited from continuity of care, seeing familiar pediatric orthopaedic surgeons who have monitored her condition for years, while also having access to advanced pediatric specialists at KCH.
Shriners Medical Center donors, patients, medical center staff and doctors, and UK HealthCare leaders dedicated the new Lexington Shriners Medical Center during a ceremony on May 21. While health care providers at Shriners Medical Center and KCH have collaborated for decades, the opening of the new facility will accommodate follow-up appointments for patients seeing multiple doctors for complex medical conditions. Ultimately, families and patients like Zayleigh will benefit from having fluid accessibility and proximity to multiple experts and medical resources at both facilities.
“Shriners Medical Center moving to UK HealthCare campus allows for seamless care to occur across institutional boundaries,” Muchow said. “The patients benefit tremendously when two excellent institutions combine mission and service to advance the pediatric orthopaedic care."
Shriners Medical Center has operated in Lexington since 1926. Transitioning from the former location on Richmond Road, Shriners Medical Center occupies 60,000 square feet of space on the bottom three floors of the new facility on South Limestone. UK HealthCare leases the top two floors for ophthalmology services. The new Lexington Shriners Medical Center includes a motion analysis center, 20 patient exam rooms, two surgical suites, a rehabilitation gymnasium, prosthetics and orthotics department, therapy rooms and interactive artwork. The energy-efficient building has geothermal heating and cooling, LED lighting and occupancy sensors, and automated equipment and controls.
UK HealthCare and Shriners Medical Center have forged a long-standing collaborative relationship through years of service to Kentucky’s children. Pediatric specialists in the fields of orthopaedics, anesthesia and rehabilitation serve on the medical staff of both organizations.
Mark D. Birdwhistell, vice president for administration and external affairs at UK HealthCare, called the new facility a “win” for UK HealthCare, Shriners Medical Center and the Lexington community.
“The building we are dedicating today will allow us to collaborate in a whole new way — bringing together Shriners Medical Center’s pediatric orthopaedic expertise and the Kentucky Children’s Hospital’s specialty and subspecialty care for children with complex conditions,” Birdwhistell said.
Pictured: Zayleigh, a Shriners Medical Center patient, walked through Kentucky Children's Hospital, where she stayed for surgical care.