Patient Stories

Patient Stories

First Aid/CPR Classes

For 15 seconds in March 2008, Diane Handley had one of the biggest scares of her life when her 1-year-old granddaughter, Aireanna, began choking on a piece of a paper napkin. Using skills learned in a St. Joseph's Children's Hospital's CPR/first aid class, Diane reacted immediately and was able to effectively dislodge the paper from her granddaughter's mouth.

According to Diane, it was the thoroughness of the class instructor and the opportunity to practice the life-saving techniques on a CPR doll that helped her commit the techniques to memory.

During St. Joseph's Children's Hospital's First Aid course, participants learn how to handle common childhood emergencies and prevent unintentional injuries. Topics such as bleeding, shock, burns, poisoning, head and spine injury, bone, joint and muscle injury and more are covered in the four-hour class.

Participants of the St. Joseph's Children's Hospital's CPR course learn how to perform lifesaving CPR and choking rescue techniques on infants, children and adults according to American Heart Association guidelines.

Giving Moms the Support They Need

Welcoming a newborn into your family can be an amazing and exciting time. And, there is a lot to learn as well. For moms learning to breastfeed their babies, Morton Plant Mease offers a free Breastfeeding Help Line and free breastfeeding support groups.

Led by one of our experienced lactation consultants, the support groups are for mom and baby and offer a chance to meet with other nursing mothers. In addition, to breastfeeding help and support, topics such as diapers, laundry, and lack of sleep are sure to come up. It's a great place for moms to share questions and to know that other women are having a similar experience. For more information on all services offered to new mothers, contact the Breastfeeding Help Line at:

  • Morton Plant Hospital: (727) 462-7749
  • Mease Countryside Hospital: (727) 725-6821

Kids are Heroes

When driving home from school on Sept. 26, 2007, 17-year-old Chelsea Organ witnessed a serious accident. While other vehicles only slowed down to look, she immediately stopped to see if she could help the injured motorist. She quickly created a tourniquet with her own clothes to try and stop the severe bleeding and administered CPR.

When she realized the injured man was not going to survive, she resolved to stay by his side. In a time of true crisis, Chelsea offered comfort to a dying stranger, and with courage and grace, knowledge to his family that at the end of his life he was not alone.

Chelsea is one of many kids in the Tampa Bay area acknowledged for their acts of heroism through the Kids are Heroes program. Since 1996, St. Joseph's Children's Hospital has recognized nearly 900 children between the ages 5 and 18 from Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk counties who have performed heroic deeds, or displayed acts of selflessness and demonstrated good citizenship during the past year.

The young winners are selected by a panel of judges made up of current and past pediatric patients of St. Joseph's Children's Hospital, and players from the Tampa Bay Lightning participate in as campaign spokes-champions. And to congratulate our heroes, we hold a special ceremony for all of the nominees, winners and their families at the end of the year.


Medical Clinic

St. Joseph's Children's Hospital's Mobile Medical Clinic provides free immunizations, well-child visits and developmental screenings to children in underserved areas throughout Tampa. The medical clinic on wheels travels once a month to four Hillsborough County Family Resource and Support Centers and makes frequent visits to the Good Samaritan Mission in Wimauma and the San Jose Mission in Dover.

While on the bus, Child Advocates provide families with injury prevention education and distribute various safety items, including bike helmets, cabinet locks and door knob covers. They also distribute applications for Medicaid or Florida Kid Care to families without insurance, and follow up to see if they are making their way through the system in an effort to make sure the children end up with their own pediatrician and a medical home.

Melanoma Monday

One of the benefits to living in Florida is enjoying the year 'round sunshine.  Unfortunately, time in the sun can be dangerous. More than one million new skin cancer detections are expected in the United States this year.  Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer, causing the most deaths.  Since 1996, Morton Plant Mease has participated in Melanoma Monday, a nationwide campaign to raise public awareness of skin cancer and to encourage early detection through regular screenings. Participants receive a free skin exam from expert cancer specialists and receive information on sun safety and warning signs of melanoma.

Of the 300 community members who took part in the most recent screening, twelve were suspected of having melanoma, with another 30 people showing signs of other forms of skin cancer.

Memory Screenings

Annual physical examinations are recommended for everyone, even healthy people.  As we progress in years, it's also a good idea to have a memory check. The Morton Plant Hospital's Madonna Ptak Center for Alzheimer's and Memory Loss conducts free monthly memory screenings at various locations in Pinellas and Pasco counties.  The evaluation helps determine whether a person may have stages of dementia. If there are signs of significant memory loss, the participant is encouraged to see a primary care physician for further assessment.

In 2008, there were 254 people who participated in the memory screenings and were given resources for help to increase and maintain memory function, and referrals to support groups.  The free memory screenings have an estimated value to the community of $7,822.

Safe Sitter

Initially, 13-year-old Brianna Dolly wasn't thrilled when her mother suggested she take a Safe Sitter class at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital. But since she occasionally watched her three younger brothers, the teenager agreed and enjoyed the class almost immediately.

"The instructor really took the time to explain everything and answered everyone's questions without making us feel silly for asking them," said Brianna.

Months later, Brianna had the opportunity to put the skills she learned to good use when her 7-month-old brother began choking while playing on the floor with some of his toys.

"I heard a weird noise and I noticed his face was red and he looked panicked," she said. "I picked him up and quickly turned him over and did several back blows. Eventually he began to cry and then threw up the item he was choking on."

Brianna's quick thinking and ability to stay calm helped to save her brother's life.

Safe Sitter is a medically accurate babysitting training program designed for young adolescents. The full-day class provides the basic information every good babysitter should know, including how to handle minor to life-threatening situations, how to rescue a choking infant or child, how to communicate with Emergency Medical Services, accident and behavior management, how to entertain kids and other babysitting tips.

St. Joseph's Children's Hospital celebrated 20 years of teaching Safe Sitter in 2008, and has had thousands of graduates who understand the responsibility needed when caring for Tampa Bay's young children.

Tomorrow's Health Care Workers

Working with tomorrow health care workers today, Morton Plant Mease works directly with students at Palm Harbor University High School's medical magnet program: the Center for Wellness and Medical Professions.  The program is designed to prepare students for entry into post secondary programs as well as direct entry in health industry careers.  Over the past 11 years, Morton Plant Mease has worked with nearly 6,000 PHU students who have contributed more than 100,000 volunteer hours.  From tours of the hospital, lectures and a mock "A Day in the Operating Room", students are given first-hand exposure to the health care field.

In 2008, Morton Plant Mease was honored with the Commissioners Business Recognition Award by the state's Department of Education as a result of its "outstanding commitment to improving education by partnering with schools in the community."

Here are just a few of the ways that Morton Plant Mease Hospital has been involved in Palm Harbor University High:

  • Provided personalized health care screenings and reports annually for 500 students for 12 years.
  • Provided speakers for classroom hospital tours, assemblies, etc.
  • Arranged and provided for about six clinical rotations of about 125 students each year.
  • Active member of the advisory board for the medical magnet.
  • Scholarships are provided annually for medical magnet students at Palm Harbor University.