There’s no age limit when it comes to giving back, and Adriana Arbitman proves that. The 5-year-old former SHN patient saved up what she could from her chore money and is using it to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) to thank the people she still remembers for taking care of her when she was sick.
“Adriana always remembers how the doctors and nurses at SHN made her feel safe and brought a smile to her face,” shares Dr. Annesse Lee, an SHN Otolaryngologist and Adriana’s mother. “They were there for her during what could have been a very frightening time, so it only made sense that she’d want to do something special for them in their time of need.”
Just last year, Adriana was hospitalized at the Centenary hospital due to a deep neck space infection. With the condition presenting differently than what is typically seen, a diagnosis took longer than usual, and Adriana had to spend eight long days with the team in paediatrics.
“Adriana left an impression on us. She was such a ray of sunshine, and having her as a patient was an absolute pleasure,” says Otolaryngologist Dr. Michael Chang. “The hospital can be a scary place, especially for our smallest patients. We do whatever we can to create as comforting and positive an atmosphere as possible for them as we work to make them feel better. With patients like Adriana though, that’s an easy task!”
From watching cartoons on Netflix in the lounge alongside Anesthesiologist Dr. Teddy Lim, to sharing laughs with Dr. Ian Kitai and Dr. Koshy Muthalaly, to getting her hands on dozens of lollipops thanks to Dr. Chang, her mother remarks that Adriana made the most of her stay at Centenary. “Even though she was getting needles daily, and had every right to be frightened, the caring and compassionate staff made her feel brave and feel like everything was going to be okay. They weren’t just doctors anymore – they were her friends!”
And when asked about her memories of her time at the hospital, Adriana touchingly says: “Everyone at the hospital was so nice. I wasn’t scared at all.”
Following her experience, Adriana wanted to say thank you to her friends at the hospital and even had the idea of baking cookies for them. However, another bout of illness and the onset of COVID-19 meant that the visit might not be possible for some time. A few months after the pandemic hit, Dr. Lee found out that a neighbour was creating ear savers to support frontline staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Adriana was always talking about how she wanted to do something nice for the hospital staff” continues Dr. Lee. “She was diligent with saving up whatever she could from her chores around the house – whether helping with laundry or tidying up around the house – so I asked if she wanted to put that money towards helping her friends at SHN. Before I even finished the sentence, she jumped up and said ‘absolutely!’”
In June, Adriana and her mother visited the hospital to drop off the newly purchased ear savers and were surprised by a visit from Dr. Chang and Dr. Lim. After passing along the PPE with a drawing of her favourite doctors, they presented her with an official certificate to recognize her generous donation.
“This was such a heartwarming experience for Adriana and me, and I’m thankful to the Foundation for helping to make her feel special,” shares Dr. Lee. “I’m incredibly grateful to be a part of the amazing SHN team. It’s one thing to contribute to the health of our community, but it’s another thing entirely to see the direct impact that our work has on families like mine. I know Adriana will never forget what the team SHN did for her, and neither will I.”
Before leaving the hospital, Adriana was asked what she’s looking forward to most. “I can’t wait until the virus is gone so that I can see my friends! Other than that, I’m going to keep saving up my money to help the doctors.”