How an emergency room physician brings joy to pediatric patients

The emergency department can sometimes be a scary place for children, whether they are there as patients or visitors. Thanks to the generosity of one emergency room physician and her family, the department at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill., will be a bit more welcoming. At the beginning of the new year, Dr. Melissa Millewich gave the department the “Bette Box” – a bright, colorful toy bin filled with items for all ages named after her late mother, who died in an accident when “Dr. Mel” was 15. “It’s something we always wanted to do as soon as I started working somewhere long-term,” she said. “My mom was the one who got me into CPR and a lifeguard class the year before she died and helped instill my love of emergency care and saving lives.” Dr. Mel said she knows the ER can be a scary place for children and hoped the toys could be used as a source of comfort or reward for kids getting an IV or stitches. It was made by her aunt Mary Jo Stark, and all of her mother’s six siblings have committed to keeping the box filled. Associates are also welcome to bring additional donated child-safe toys to the department to be added to the collection. Emergency Department Manager Steve Albery said the Bette Box would have a welcome home in the department. “It will really help enhance our level of care for pediatric patients,” he said. “Emergency departments are hard places to be for kids – many times, they don’t want to be here. It’s so nice for Dr. Mel and her family to provide these toys for those kids.” Dr. Mel hopes the box brings a degree of positive association to the department. “Sometimes the things we do might be painful or uncomfortable, but we do them because we care about them and want them to get better,” she said.