Riley Hospital cleft care team is about patients, families

INDIANAPOLIS — For four healthcare workers at Riley Hospital for Children, their job is more than just a job.

Each has their own story that led them to Riley’s Craniofacial Cracks and Abnormalities program.

“We love our patients, we care for our patients, and we really want to make sure that every parent, every baby, every family member has what they need to be successful,” said Cara Drake-Luecking, speech pathologist at Riley. .

“It’s near and dear to my heart, to connect with families who are going through the same thing with my son, knowing that there is support available,” said Jodie Skinner, a registered nurse at Riley.

Both Drake-Luecking and Skinner have children born with craniofacial anomalies.

“Luke is 10 years old and he’s had 12 surgeries so far,” Skinner said.

Jodie Skinner

Photos of Jodie Skinner’s son Luke before and after surgery
Luke Skinner now

Rachael Marie Maloy

Photo of Luke taken in the fall

“Miles is also 10, but he only turned three,” Drake-Luecking said. Her husband was also born with a cleft lip.

Cara with her son Miles

Cara Drake-Luecking

Cara with her son Miles
Cara's husband and son

Cara Drake-Luecking

Cara’s son and husband. Both were born with split lips.

Ellen Randall Kresca, childminder, and Caitlin Church, program coordinator in Riley’s cleft care unit, were both born with craniofacial anomalies. Randall Kresca only had a cleft lip, so she underwent three surgeries.

Ellen Randall Kresca with her mother

Ellen Randall Kresca

Ellen Randall Kresca as a baby with her mother

Church, however, had to undergo several surgeries.

“I had cleft lip, cleft palate, and craniosynostosis. I had had 16 procedures by the time I graduated from high school,” Church said.

Caitlin Church baby

Caitlin Church

A 1987 photo of Caitlin Church

All of these women who have personal connections comfort their patients and their families. Those who come to Riley know there is someone there who can relate to what they are going through. It also gives parents hope for the future.

“Parents can see us working in this environment and having an adult who is a role model for their child and what they will one day become,” Randall Kresca said.

“It means a lot to me that it’s not just work to be done. It’s soul-level work,” Church said.

The Allgoods are just one of the families Riley’s team takes care of; it doesn’t stop at hospital care.

Emmalyn Allgood can now see her beauty reflected in her through her family’s adopted dog, Maverick. The cockapoo is also born with a cleft lip.

Church is the member of Team Riley who connected the dog breeder with the association Legendary smiles for the special adoption to occur. She had this to say about the importance for people, young and old, to see themselves in all walks of life.

RELATED: Family adopt dog with cleft lip mirroring beauty of their daughter, who was also born with a cleft lip

“I think representation is important. It’s important to see yourself reflected in the wider community and not feel like you’re an anomaly or there’s something wrong with you, because the more we normalize it, the less people feel bad or differently,” Church said. said.

Christine E. Phillips