Children to enjoy Santa Pal party Saturday

JOHNSON CITY -- Twenty-four families and more than 40 children can enjoy a festive party on Saturday at Johnson City Medical Center (JCMC), where toys and goodies, refreshments and the grand ol' elf himself will entertain.
   JCMC will host the party in the Tennessee Room from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.
   The annual Santa Pal party for area children who have been patients in The Children's Hospital at JCMC throughout the past year, and who might have limited opportunities to celebrate Christmas, is organized and funded by not only team members at Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA), but also area businesses and organizations.
   "We are delighted to have the help and assistance of so many giving and caring individuals and businesses with the annual party. Patients from The Children's Hospital come from many areas, including Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia and Western North Carolina. Their families often have prolonged stays in Johnson City, as well. A Christmas party is one of the many ways we practice patient-centered care. This is just a festive way to continue our focus on service to patients," said Lisa Smithgall, MSHA Director of Children and Women's Services.
   Smithgall explained that the Santa Pal program provides MSHA an opportunity to serve the numerous patients and their families where a catastrophic illness or traumatic injury might have placed great financial strains on a family. The children who benefit from the Santa Pal program might not otherwise get much attention at the holiday season.
   Often, patients at The Children's Hospital are being treated for leukemia, other types of childhood cancer, cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy, HIV or injuries, such as Traumatic Brain Injury.
   Smithgall added that even if one child is being treated in The Children's Hospital, it affects all children in the family, so the Santa Pal program and its donors provide gifts to all of the children in the family.
   Sponsors have consistently included individuals, MSHA team members and their families, departments throughout MSHA, churches from the communities in the health care system's service area and businesses. Gifts are collected and delivered to JCMC where the items are tagged with a family number for identification.