Published: May 20, 2019
When the Bates triplets were born 18 years ago, they were premature, arriving when their mother Ann was only 27 weeks into her pregnancy. As a complication of the early delivery of multiples, baby Emily was diagnosed was Diplegic Cerebral Palsy. Diplegic Cerebral Palsy causes the muscles to be stiff and contracted, making it difficult to walk. For Emily, now a teenager getting ready to go to college, her Cerebral Palsy also affects her balance.
Since she was a toddler, Emily has been through many different treatments to address her complications from Cerebral Palsy. She has had two osteotomies, surgeries that involve cutting bone in order to reshape them- on her femur and tibia bones- and has also gone through the process of foot lengthening. And over the years, Emily has been through consistent Physical Therapy to help treat her stiff and spastic muscles.
While surgeries, treatments, and daily therapy are difficult for Emily and her family, what makes it even more difficult is that home, Hawley, Pennsylvania, is hundreds of miles away from the care Emily needs in Wilmington.
When the family first sought treatment in Delaware, it was because Emily’s mom Ann wanted a second opinion on the diagnosis and did research to find the best neurologist she could. Her search led her to Nemours/Alfred I duPont Hospital for Children, where Emily is now participating in the Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Program (CORP).
“At one time, she had nine different specialists,” Ann says, sharing that she often needed to see all nine specialists within the same week. When a three-hour drive from Hawley didn’t make sense to get to nine different appointments in a week, the Bates Family discovered the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware.
“Being at the House was great,” Ann says, referencing the weeks when Emily needed to see all of her doctors, “It helps you not only physically, but mentally.” After long days at hospital appointments, Ann and Emily enjoy coming back to the House to rest and catch up with their friends, welcoming the break from the clinical hospital environment, The House has also allowed the rest of Emily’s family to come and visit whenever she had to stay inpatient at the hospital, providing a relaxing place to rest after the long drives from Hawley.
The family has been coming to the House for 15 years and has made plenty of friends to prove it. Emily and Ann have formed close connections with other patients and their parents, and found support in getting to know others with similar stories. Most nights, Emily can be found in the dining room at the Ronald McDonald House, chatting with her friends Cecily and Nick, who are both also in the CORP program.
In addition to making many new friends over the years, the family has also gained new experiences. Emily says that staying at the house has helped her learn about others and their struggles and that she is always reminded that “we are all going through something.” For Ann, she says she has learned to be more compassionate.
Ann adds that “without the Ronald McDonald House,” they probably wouldn’t be able to get care at Nemours and “the quality of Emily’s therapy would be inadequate for her needs.”
As Emily continues her therapy through the CORP program, she is very much looking forward to going to college. Although she had to defer her college acceptance because of complications from her most recent surgery, she is determined to become stronger, more independent, and get her degree in International Business at the University of Scranton.
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