The Children's Institute Blog

Doctor Spotlight: Mary Louise Russell, MD

Posted by The Children's Institute - Jul 07, 2017

We launched our new "Doctor Spotlight" series by featuring Dr. Scott Faber, Director of Developmental Pediatrics at The Children's Institute. Today, we're excited to put the spotlight on another amazing staff member - Dr. Mary Louise Russell, Pediatric Rehabilitation Physician. Check out the Q&A!

Dr. Mary Louise Russell - HeadshotQ: When did you start working at The Children's Institute?
A: Actually, I have worked two "stints" at The Institute. The first was from 1989-2001; I worked half time at The Institute and half time at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. My second "stint" began in 2012; I now work only at The Institute.

Q: Where did you grow up?
A: Beaver Falls, PA

Q: As a child, what did you want to be?
A: An art teacher. 

Announcement from our Board Chair John Thornburgh

Posted by The Children's Institute - Jun 20, 2017

Dear Friend of The Children's Institute,

For more than a century, The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh has been dedicated to improving the quality of life for children, young people, and their families by providing a specialized continuum of services that enables them to reach their potential.

Our national recognition as the go-to resource for helping children with a variety of unique needs is due in large part to our extraordinary staff and physicians and our wonderful community support, but also to the strong and dedicated senior leaders who have led our organization over the years.
Today we are excited to announce the next chapter in our organization's leadership, as The Children's Institute has selected Dr. Wendy Ann Pardee to assume the role of President and CEO, effective August 7.

Wendy will succeed our long-time CEO David Miles, who has served The Children's Institute for 40 years in various roles, including as a teacher in the organization's Day School, in management positions for inpatient and outpatient services including Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, among others. David assumed the role of CEO in 2003. Under his leadership, the organization achieve many operational and financial improvements, doubled the number of children and families served, and completed two comprehensive fundraising Campaigns totaling $42 million.

We greatly appreciate David for his decades of dedicated service. He is committed to working with Wendy to ensure a smooth transition. Read More...

Father's Day Spotlight: Chad Bender

Posted by The Children's Institute - Jun 16, 2017

Chad Bender’s daughter, Alea, wouldn’t eat, leading to G-tube feedings when most children are learning to crawl. Then, she came to The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh.

“This was all new to me. I didn’t even know kids had problems with feeding until my daughter,” Chad said. “It was a very eye-opening experience.”

But the fact that Children’s Institute helped Alea learned to eat – “Now she’ll eat anything you put in front of her,” Chad says – is not the reason we’re profiling Chad today in honor of Father’s Day.

After his daughter had two inpatient visits, Chad, who was a steel mill water treatment worker, decided to change course in his life. He went to school at Community College of Allegheny County’s Boyce campus and pursued a career in healthcare as a Certified OT Assistant, or COTA. He even came back to the very place his daughter was treated, joining the Children’s Institute family on April 21, 2014.

“I now can help people the way they helped me and it tends to relax parents a little bit,” said Chad, who works at our Norwin Hills satellite and fills in on some Saturdays at the main Squirrel Hill campus. “I told one parent, ‘You’re staying in my room.’ She said, ‘You don’t know how nice it is to have a therapist who’s been there and done this as a parent.’ I might not know what they’re going through specifically, but I can relate.”

“He is a natural helper and therapist. His caring, warm and inclusive nature was probably helpful in his former work and team relationships, as well as now,” said Lorelli Moser, who heads the OT department. “Chad fulfills many ‘occupations;’ one is as a therapist and one is as father. Each occupation informs the other one. As a therapist, I think being a father helps him with ‘street cred’ with other families, and increases his effectiveness in those engaging family-therapist relationships.”

His wife, Marcie – they celebrate their 17th anniversary Saturday – and children Alea, now 8, and Cody, 6, are central to a big part of his life. But does his daughter realize what she inadvertently did to that other part of his life, the course of his career?

“I think my daughter has started to understand that,” he said. “I tell her she’s reason I do the job I do now and she smiles.”


The Day School at The Children’s Institute Celebrates its Graduating Class of 2017

Posted by The Children's Institute - Jun 09, 2017

One loves his disco ball.

Another enjoys delivering newspapers to different classrooms.

A third is proud of her puppy, Bentley.

On Thursday, though, they were more than individuals with unique tastes; they were graduates – freshly minted members of the Class of 2017.

The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh’s Day School held a graduation ceremony Thursday to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance,” celebrating the seven young adults graduating from our classrooms, as well as the parents, family and peers who supported them along the way.

“We’re celebrating with you as we look back at all that your children – our students – have done at The Day School,” Chief Administrator Cynthia Morelock told a gymnasium packed with well-wishers, students and staff. “We’re not just teaching students here. We’re learning from them.”

David Miles, President and CEO of The Children’s Institute, also addressed the graduates, noting that “they, too, have made The Institute their home, some for quite some time.” David, who is set to retire, started his career here 40 years ago as a teacher’s aide.  Read More...

Quincy's Quest

Posted by The Children's Institute - Jun 08, 2017

Quincy Sims was born on a Wednesday. Two days later, doctors told his parents he had suffered a stroke that affected 60 percent of his brain, leaving him blind and deaf.

“They gave us timelines for when he was going to die,” said his mother, Jessica. “My husband and I were like, ‘We really think you’re wrong.’ Our work, our community, were praying for us, praying for Quincy. We wanted to do something to pay them back. So, that’s why we do Quincy’s Quest.”

Quincy just celebrated his fourth birthday in May with the Quincy’s Quest fundraiser, where more than 120 runners raised an estimated $2,100 to benefit The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh. Though he did not run, the Sims family hopes he will walk someday.  Read More...

Special Olympics at The Day School

Posted by The Children's Institute - Jun 08, 2017

Yesterday was a special day here at The Children’s Institute as we celebrated our annual Special Olympics at The Day School. It is a time for our students to really show their talent and help cheer on all of those participating in the event. Participants even receive medals for all of their hard work!

The Special Olympics is an all day event composed of several activities for the students to engage in. They range from basketball to track and bowling to tricycling, offering multiple options for students to participate in.

To kick off the festivities, personal student nurse Jackie Houston sang a booming rendition of The National Anthem as she put her arm around a student in a wheelchair. The occasion was no one-off event for the trained singer saying “I liked it, supporting everybody,” Jackie said. “The class I’m in, they’re excited. So it’s nice to give back to the community. And this is our community; I’m here five days of the week.”  Read More...

Café Concert at The Day School

Posted by The Children's Institute - Jun 02, 2017

Jen Sweazon filled The Children Institute of Pittsburgh’s café with an enormous amount of energy this week with her tap dance performance for The Day School (TDS) students. 

Her performance was part of a café concert series set up by TDS music teacher Eric Emmons, who feels performances such as these should be as casual and comfortable as possible.

“I wanted our older students to have a chance to enjoy music in a less formal setting, and also to practice their social and money skills at the same time,” he said.

And based off student reactions to the performance, there’s no question that this was achieved. Read More...

Derby Day at The Day School

Posted by The Children's Institute - Jun 01, 2017

The Pinewood Derby at The Children’s Institute’s Day School was book-ended yesterday with loudspeaker musical contributions from Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody” and, closing the event, “We Are The Champions” – but the day was owned, appropriately, by the cars.

There were cars representing superheroes, ones dedicated to the work of Dr. Seuss, and ones painted like frogs and shaped like squirrels. There were time-machine cars and lightning-bolt cars and rainbow cars. There was a car for every kid.

But, in the end, it was Wayne Marshall’s “Superman Superfly” that took the final heat after the black-and-white checkered flag was unfurled.

“Oh my God,” said an exasperated Wayne, as he pulled the neck of his T-shirt up to his chin after the final race. “It feels good!”

Students from The Day School had spent roughly two months making their cars, social skills therapist Stacy Porter Smith said. And the track-stand down which those cars raced? Well, for that they had a little help from Plant Ops.  Read More...

New Doctor Spotlight Series: Today’s Feature – Dr. Scott Faber

Posted by The Children's Institute - May 31, 2017

Today, we launch our new Doctor Spotlight series by focusing on Dr. Scott Faber, Director of Developmental Pediatrics at The Children’s Institute. Here’s the transcription:

When did you start working at The Children’s Institute? In the summer of 2004.

Where did you grow up? Northeast Philadelphia.

As a child, what did you want to be? An astronaut.

Where did you go to school? La Salle University and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. 

What inspired you to go into your field of study?

I started volunteering at Moss Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia, interacting with children with autism, at age 14. I was immediately hooked by pediatrics and this population in particular.  Read More...

Josh Kuznetsov – Better Speech & Hearing Month

Posted by The Children's Institute - May 31, 2017

Josh Kuznetsov has battled with cerebral palsy, seizure disorder and cortical vision impairment for his entire life. Despite all of this, Josh is an enthusiastic young man eager to converse with others and express his ideas. 

Josh first came to The Children’s Institute when he was only three and started at The Day School while also receiving outpatient speech therapy. It was here that he and his mother Judy Cohen met out-patient therapists Colleen Chester Connelly and Marybeth Trapani-Hanasewych.
Judy said that “They were (and are) both amazing” when asked about the quality of care Josh was receiving. 

Josh started with an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device called a Dynavox, which allows him to use various forms of communication to get his message across. The Dynavox is an AAC device, an electronic machine that reads aloud letters, words and phrases when prompted by a user. This is the most advanced form of communication which allows Josh to talk with others.   Read More...

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