40 - Portland, OR
"Having cancer when my son was so young opened my eyes to a need many families face: finding child care so that you can get to the doctor. I'm glad the lessons from my cancer can be put to good use to help make life better for other families. I love it when parents tell me that their kids often ask, "When can we go to the hospital so that I can go to My Little Waiting Room?" That's when I know we're making a real difference."
When Amy Paterson was 34, she was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. Her son was 2-and-a-half years old. Amy had support from her husband, family and friends. Still, it was hard to arrange child care for the 144 medical appointments she had that year alone. Later, when talking with a friend about the challenges she faced, Amy realized there was a simple answer that could have helped her and could impact thousands of families in the future, not just those facing cancer. The two friends began researching the idea for drop-in child care at the hospital, creating the concept and forming the nonprofit My Little Waiting Room®. After all, if IKEA, movie theaters and gyms could offer the service, why couldn't a hospital?
Every day, parents visit hospitals for treatments, diagnostic tests, emergencies, routine exams and to sit with loved ones. If they can’t find or afford someone to watch their children, they must bring their child with them. This can be distracting for patients, doctors and nurses, and scary or confusing for the child. A lack of child care can also cause a parent to skip necessary treatment or miss getting care altogether. My Little Waiting Room, one of the first centers of its kind, is a practical, replicable way for hospitals to help families gain better access to health care. Today My Little Waiting Room’s model center has served more than 10,000 child visits and plans are underway to expand to more locations. One day, Amy hopes every hospital will have a My Little Waiting Room. That's why Amy is a 2012 Woman of Worth!