Camp Friends

July 26, 2018

Camp Friends

So last month I wrote about a wonderful Neurosurgeon, Dr Sanjiv Bhatia from Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, who died too soon. I talked about what a wonderful human being and physician he was and how many children with epilepsy he helped. But, it made me think about the other professionals I work with and maybe I should take the time now to sing their praises.

So many of you many already know about our camp program (If you don’t and you have a child with epilepsy, you should.) Camp Boggy Creek in Eustis, FL is a camp designed for kids with chronic illness and there is a week in summer for kids with epilepsy. The camp has a medical director, a nursing director and during the summer they hire 5-6 nurses. But every illness week is also staffed by doctors and nurses from that specialty. I have been going up there since it opened and I want to talk about some of the other people who go with me.

Dr Mark Epstein- Dr Mark (as he is known at camp) has been coming to Boggy for 20 years. When he is not involved in an aquatic activity at camp, he is the Medical Director of the Nicklaus Children’s Dan Marino Outpatient Center. After graduating from Harvard University, Dr. Epstein attended Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. He completed his pediatric residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital (Yale University), his neurology residency at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (University of Pennsylvania), and a fellowship in pediatric epilepsy and neurophysiology at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. After completing his fellowship, he came to camp. In fact the first year he was there, he was meant to split the week with another neurologist. The camp had just hired a new medical director who had not started yet, so the only doctors at camp that week were the neurologists. Mark left camp, headed on his 3 ½ hour ride home thinking the other MD was just about to arrive. We got word the other neurologist wasn’t going to be able to make it. This was before cell phones so we called Dr Epstein when he got home and told him there was no doctor at camp. He got on a plane and came back. He came back because he knew it was the right thing to do for the children who were there.

Dr Ian Miller, aka Dr Ian attended the University of Iowa College of Medicine, completed post-graduate medical training in pediatrics (University of Utah), neurology and child neurology (University of Washington), and clinical neurophysiology (Nicklaus Children’s Hospital) before taking a full-time position in Miami. At present, he is the Medical Director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. He too came to camp upon completion of his fellowship and has come back every summer since. He is one of the camps biggest supporters and when you look at the list of the campers, Dr Miller is always the physician of record for the largest number of campers during epilepsy week. He understands the benefit of this camp and when the web of kindness is spun (an activity done after meals where the kids are told to thank someone who has been kind to them) Dr Miller is constantly thanked by his young patients for telling their parents about camp.

Dr Ann Hyslop another one of my fabulous fellows, graduated from University of Texas Medical School at Houston, completed her pediatrics residency at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, and did her neurology residency at University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital in Washington state. She completed a two year clinical neurophysiology fellowship at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and joined the staff as Director of Neuro Critical Care and now Associate Director Clinical Neurophysiology Program. Dr Ann is now a part of the Boggy Family. She was hooked after her first meal in the dining hall when the singing and dancing began. She just gets an incredible amount of joy, watching her young patients, who she often cared for in ICU when they were critically ill, able to dance, sing, and eat spaghetti without their hands and all the other fabulous activities at Boggy. She loves that at camp, the kids see her as a real person, and someone they can talk to, dance with and have fun with.

And I can’t forget my nurses. Liz Roman and Anja Glassner. Liz Roman actually began her epilepsy camp experience many years prior to Camp Boggy Creek. She started to come to camp back when we were running a camp for kids with epilepsy at Everglades Youth Camp. Liz started her nursing career at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital on the Neuroscience Unit, so epilepsy camp was a natural fit. She eventually transferred to Intensive Care Unit then Outpatient Care Center, but never lost her love for epilepsy camp and uses her vacation time every year to attend that week at Boggy Creek. She has been an invaluable asset to me all these years and I couldn’t imagine doing camp without her.

Anja has been working on the surgical unit at Nicklaus Children’s hospital for many years. She had heard about the camp and wanted to go. Although she didn’t have a particular expertise in seizures, she decided to come with us to Epilepsy week. Now she is an expert, especially when it comes to keeping children with epilepsy safe on a horse!   She often helps young campers who have never been on a horse, conquer their fear and wind up having the time of their lives has they ride around the ring. She is an incredible energy and an amazing nurse and I am so happy that she decided to join us at camp.

Almost three decades ago, Paul Newman started a free camp where kids could escape the fear and isolation of their medical conditions and, in his words, “raise a little hell.” These wonderful doctors and nurses from Nicklaus Children’s Hospital have seen firsthand the fear and isolation he talked about and come to Camp Boggy Creek so they can help these kids “raise a little hell”.

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