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Partnerships: Daystar

Daystar and Children's Hospital Help Patients and Families

Mia and her sisters

Mia Fallone (right) and her sisters enjoyed the 2011 Stroll for Strong Kids.

Mia Fallone and her twin sister, Gabriella, were born on Nov. 25, 2008. While Gabriella had no complications, Mia had been diagnosed with hydrocephalus at 16 weeks gestation, meaning she had excess fluid on her brain. She also had VATER syndrome and complications from that, including a single kidney and abnormal vertebrae. Hours after birth, Mia had surgery to drain the fluid on her brain. She would have six more surgeries in the next 13 months.

Carleen Fallone, the girls’ mother, felt lost. The family was in a period of transition with two newborns, and one was medically fragile. That’s when Carla LeVant, senior pediatric social worker at Golisano Children’s Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center, recommended Fallone contact Daystar for Medically Fragile Infants, Inc.

Daystar is a medical daycare facility that offers nursing-supervised daycare for medically fragile children 3-years-old or younger. It is the only facility of its kind in New York. Daystar is planning an expansion to a new, larger facility and will serve children through age 5, due to constant demand for its services.

Natalie Anderson, executive director of Daystar, thinks the collaboration between Daystar and Golisano Children’s Hospital is a win-win. All the clients are patients of the hospital who find out about Daystar through hospital staff. Daystar’s nursing team also communicates with specialists, pediatricians and therapists at the hospital to help give the kids opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have, such as one-on-one care and the chance to be around kids like them.

“Daystar helps families in their ability to cope and to creatively approach obstacles they encounter. Perhaps most importantly, it gives them peace of mind and comfort in knowing their child is in safe, competent and in loving hands,” said Anderson.

Parents can take comfort in knowing their medically fragile child is safe with Daystar, especially in collaboration with the children’s hospital.

“That is always more comforting for families than just sending them to a regular day care, and we can be more confident of the services that will be provided,” said LeVant.

Mia started attending Daystar when she was 9-months-old. She receives occupational therapy, physical therapy and music therapy. Fallone cannot thank the staff enough for what they have done for her family.

“Our lives had changed, and we felt like we were lost or on our own island. We met people at Daystar in the same position, and they all understood what we were going through as parents. They became an instant extension to our family.”

Enrolling Mia in Daystar gave Fallone the chance to spend much-needed time with her two older children, who were 6 and 4 when the twins were born. Fallone has also been able to return to work part time. She credits Mia’s progress to the workers at Daystar, whose caring attention has allowed Mia to overcome some outstanding obstacles.

“She gets one-on-one time with a nurse all day, and it’s like a school. She knows her colors and shapes,” said Fallone. “I can’t thank the hospital enough for recommending Daystar. They’ve brought so much joy, love and support to our family, and we feel extremely fortunate.”

The Catholic Courier created the following video about Daystar, with Mia's family and others who have been touched by this wonderful organization.