By Keishla Sanchez
Hello everyone! My name is Keishla Sanchez ’22. This summer I will be interning at Weisman Medical Daycare and Outpatient Care in my hometown—Pennsauken, New Jersey! With the help of Rylee Fennell ’20, I was able to learn about Weisman and her experiences as a volunteer last summer. After conversing with Rylee, I immediately went on Weisman’s website and read about their rehabilitation centers: Inpatient Care, Outpatient Care, and the Medical Daycare, all of which are in South Jersey. The three facilities provide therapeutic services for infants and children with developmental and neurological disorders up until the age of 20. Weisman’s interdisciplinary team includes pediatric doctors, rehabilitation nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, child life specialists, nutritionists, and several more. Weisman Children’s Hospital and their Rehabilitation Centers consist of specialists who are willing to go above and beyond in order to help patients function to the best of their ability.
After applying to be an adult volunteer at Weisman, I decided to apply for the CCPA Gertrude Albert Heller Memorial Grant which is designed for students who are interested in primary care and working with the neurologically impaired. Weisman’s Medical Daycare will allow me to interact with children with special needs and developmental disorders directly. Both the Outpatient Care and the Medical Daycare will provide me with the opportunity to explore my passion of becoming an Occupational Therapist. Thus, I was beyond thankful to receive the Gertrude Heller Grant and was eager to begin volunteering. Weisman’s unique application process ensures that every volunteer is dedicated to helping children achieve their ultimate potential. Prior to attending my orientation with Rose Lynch—the volunteer Manager at Weisman Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital—I needed to complete the adult volunteer application, receive a 2-Step Tuberculosis Skin Test, a Drug Screening, fingerprinting test, and answer a 50 multiple choice question exam on the privacy rules and expectations for staff members at Weisman. After successfully completing all the tasks and attending the two-hour orientation, I was finally ready to volunteer!
I was so excited to start my internship at Weisman’s Medical Daycare and Outpatient Care this week. I begin my mornings volunteering at the Medical Daycare and then I volunteer at the Outpatient Care once a week. The Medical Daycare provides care and therapy sessions for newborns and children up to the age of six. Some of the children in the Medical Daycare receive their tutoring sessions at the Outpatient Care for a variety of services which include physical, occupational, speech, and feeding therapy. I spent my first week volunteering alongside nurses and child-life specialists in the toddler and preschool rooms. In the toddler classroom, I helped prepare lunch and snack for the children, watched them play outside during recess, and sang lots of nursery rhymes with them. After my shift at the Medical Daycare, I headed next door to the Outpatient Care and met the physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, and I got to shadow a research aide who will be pursuing her masters in OT this fall. At the Outpatient Care, I learned about the therapies offered at Weisman, got to view the gyms used by physical and occupational therapists, and saw the private rooms used by speech language pathologists. After every hour-long therapy session, I helped disinfect and organize any toys that the specialists used. Once I completed my volunteer session, the head of the Outpatient Care explained to me that I would be able to observe a few therapy sessions soon!
Overall, I am looking forward to volunteering and observing the progression of children at the Medical Daycare and Outpatient Care this summer. After solely volunteering for one week, I witnessed a young boy walk for the first time, heard drastic improvements in a child’s speech, and observed a child ride a bicycle for the first time. The passion and enthusiasm that resided in every staff member reminded me of the main reason why I wish to become an occupational therapist—to give children the ability to learn, grow, and blossom into a stronger and healthier being.