Children’s Hospital Heroes: Shantisa Anderson

By Patrick McGee

There are many metrics for measuring a hospital; patient outcomes, the quality of doctors, and the expanse of medical expertise, but no measure judges a hospital better than a patient who has been there many times.

Now 19 years old, sickle cell patient Shantisa Anderson was a frequent patient at Children’s Medical Center Dallas from ages 3 to 18. Sometimes she was hospitalized for more than a month at a time. She knows Children’s Health better than most patients, and she can tell you what it’s like.

“It has a great quality staff, for one. The people there are very nice,” she said. “Of the different hospitals I have been to, it’s the best so far. I rate it 10 out of 10.”

Sickle cell disease occurs when red blood cells form a crescent or sickle shape, instead of a round shape. This can rob tissues of oxygen and cause sudden, severe pain.

“One day I could be OK, and the next day I’m hurting pretty bad and I can’t move at all,” Shantisa said, explaining how her hospitalizations would be sudden and unplanned. The family lives in Atlanta, Texas, nearly a three two hour drive from Dallas, so the frequent need for hospitalizations was a real hardship.

“Sometimes I couldn’t see my family for months on end. I couldn’t see my siblings at all. That was probably the hardest thing,” she said.

Fortunately, Shantisa and her mother, Lois Bell, found that the Children’s staff was the next best thing to family.

“They make you feel like you are at home. They help you if you need help with anything,” Ms. Bell said. “She’s been there so long even the staff in the kitchen know her nickname and always says, ‘Tell Mookie ‘Hello!’ ’”

Shantisa developed especially close bonds with a chaplain who prayed with her and a music therapist from Child Life who sang with her in her hospital room and in the Seacrest Studio.



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