the tale of the dancing doc

Once upon a time a five-year old princess known only as "the Skink" was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) because of pneumonia, caused by an ugly green troll. She suffered from insufficient oxygen in her bloodstream, and required a technique known as "high flow" oxygen delivery to ensure enough oxygen was getting into her blood to be delivered to the critical tissues-brain, heart, lungs, GI tract, kidneys. She nearly needed help breathing with a ventilator, but this was avoided due to diligent care provided by the staff. As she got better, she was reluctant to get up and move around. Walking, running and playing are necessary to get children (and princesses) to take deep breaths and clear their lungs. But having a troll in your lungs can make you very tired and weak. The pneumonia troll was trying to keep this little princess in bed, fighting all attempts to get her out and moving. No amount of cajoling, pleading or bribery would work. Not for all the gold in the kingdom would this young princess get up and walk. So the staff in the PICU had to think of something, to save their princess from the ugly troll threatening her recovery. They performed the magic spell of the dancing doc. The Skink's' mother, otherwise known as the Queen, captured the magic on her cell phone, so you can see it. First, the medical student engaged the princess in singing her favorite song [flv: 480 360] Then the student, the attending doctor, nurses, respiratory therapist and physical therapist joined in a circle and the young princess was freed of the pneumonia troll in response to the magical music. She rose up and started to move, dance, sing, jump, and most importantly, laugh. [flv: 480 360]The troll returned to his hiding place under the Mill Mountain, and the young princess was able to return to her own castle, where, still a bit weak, she will live happily ever after.

Seriously, folks, have you ever seen such magic?

This is proof that effective medicine cannot be achieved with medication and monitors alone. Connecting with your patient is everything. I am so proud of the team in the PICU for doing what they needed to do to get this little girl to engage and participate in her own recovery.

Many thanks, also to her mom who shared these videos with us. You can read more about the Skink's time at the Carilion Clinic Children's Hospital PICU by visiting the Queen's own blog. P.S. The troll's name is VIRUS. He remains at large.

Recent Comments

Thanks so much for taking the time to let the staff know that what they do every day is appreciated. I am so happy to have each of them. And thank you so much for sharing the videos, and your considerable sense of humor with us.

Awesome. You guys ROCK. :-D

Thanks for your comment. Glad you enjoyed the post.

Your entire staff deserves honors for the amazing care they provided our daughter with during her 9-day stay! To find one staff member who is willing to do whatever it takes to get a sick kiddo up and moving again is an amazing thing... but to have an entire staff willing to do what it takes? We feel so lucky and so blessed that our daughter was cared for by these amazing people. We never expected more than a business-like staff working to get their jobs done, but what we got in actuality blew our minds! A dollar amount can't be put on care this personalized.

We can't thank you enough!

Hey Mark,
Thanks so much for your visit and your comment. Yes, we know of Patch Adams here as well (of course many only know how he was portrayed in the movie by Robin Williams). The spontaneity of this activity is what really inspired me to post it. People who care for children have to maintain that spontaneity, and be willing to connect to their own inner child--that helps the healthcare worker be more effective, and also can help ease some of the stress put on families as well as staff during serious and acute or chronic illnesses.

Great stuff! Reminds me of Patch Adams (who became quite well known here in the UK). I loved this post, thanks for sharing.

Yes, indeed. All our teams are great. Being willing to take a few minutes to do something a little kooky, like dancing around the unit can mean the difference between a good outcome and one not quite so good. Glad I work with a bunch of folks who never worry about giving a little more of themselves than is expected.

Thanks, Lisa
I have never met the Skink in person, and hope for her sake I never have the pleasure, at least never due to illness on her part. Thanks for being a part of the team that makes our children's hospital so special!

More Proof that LAUGHTER is indeed the Best Medicine! It makes everyday brighter. What an amzing team of dedicated people we have! I for one am proud to say I work at Carilion Clinic Children's Hospital! Way to go and Keep up the GREAT Work PICU Team!

This is so sweet! I am glad to see that one of my all time favorite patients is feeling well enough to dance again.

When I saw Daniel after seeing this video on YouTube, I told him we might decide to make all applicants to our residency do a dance as part of their interview. This is the kind of doctor I want us to cultivate (of course they have to be smart and compulsive and all those other good things too). I think he will get honors for his rotation because of attitude!

That is hilarious! What a good medical student to do that!

What a beautiful thing to watch! So proud of the PICU unit - This should be You Tubed so everyone everywhere can see what the true meaning of a healthcare worker's profession is all about. They are wonderful!!!

Wendy I agree. Actually we embedded it FROM YouTube. I will see if I can add the link but its definitely out there. I am truly blessed to have such a crew to work with!

Yes it's funny ... but it also brought a tear to my eye. I love what you are doing here. Thanks for using multimedia to make these stories come to life. You are an inspiration.

Thanks Mark,
I am grateful to this mom for posting the video on You Tube and then letting me post it on my blog. I am also happy that our hospital is not so paranoid about people taking pictures in the PICU or elsewhere as they are at many other institutions where families are not permitted to video any part of the care being delivered to their child. Patient and family-centered care. What you and I would want for one of our own.

Such a great testament to the staff of the PICU (and to one extremely resourceful and determined medical student)! Thanks for sharing the story and video, I can't wait to share it with my staff on TSCU.

Thanks Leslie. Glad you liked the story, and I am happy you stopped by. Yes the PICU staff is wonderful. We just don't happen to catch it on video every day.

I think this shows that teamwork prevails in our environment. This is a portrayal to others of what Carilion Clinic represents. This one video brought smiles,laughter, and a genuine feeling of comfort to the patient while achieving a better outcome in a caring nature which makes me proud to be a part of this organization.

This is terrific! Here's to the power of a clinical team that truly cares for their patients. This dance obviously contributed to the princess' healing and joy!
Thanks so much for posting this- it made my day.

Thanks, Kathleen. There are so many ways to help our patients feel better--that you don't find in textbooks. I am thrilled we have so many staff who care so much they will do anything necessary to help them heal.

Thanks for your comment, Tammy. Teamwork is so very important. And you know that you can not PAY people to do those important things for patients. I just has to come from the heart. Our people have wonderful hearts.

These are wonderful and inspirational video clips that demonstrate the love and commitment of all of the folks who care for our children at the Children's Hospital. It's really special to see this team working. Nice dance moves, too.

Thanks so much for taking the time to visit the blog and leave a comment. It is very special to us.

Wow!! What an awesome story...I mean dance :-).

Thanks for sharing this, it made my day. It reminds us healthcare folks that laughter is simple, but very useful medicine!!

Thanks Chris. We are going to use dance tryouts as an interview technique for our intern applicants!

Alice--thanks for sharing this! What a great team!

How precious! What an incredible team of people who absolutely love their patients. This made me cry!

Thanks so much Amanda. Isn't it great for families to be able to see the caring that goes into the care that is given in the PICU (and all of peds for that matter). Glad you stopped by.

Thanks for leaving a comment, Jay. We are very proud of all of them.

I loved watching this!!! It takes a special person (people) to get down on the level of a child and know what will truly make them happy.

Such a joy to watch! I can't even imagine how rewarding this was for the staff members directly involved. Thanks for sharing. It reminded me, as well, of Patch Adams. May this young medical student inspire others to think (and act) in a creative and holistic manner.


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About Dr. Ackerman

Alice Ackerman, MD, MBA, FAAP, FCCM is the Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Carilion Clinic and Professor and Founding Chair of Pediatrics at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. Dr. Ackerman is recognized nationally as an expert in pediatric critical care.

She has been at Carilion Clinic since June of 2007. Her primary goals are to enhance the health care of children in the Roanoke Valley and Southwest Virginia, and is actively working to do this both as physician in chief of the children's hospital, as well as through involvement with many state-wide initiatives.

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