Who Are You When No One Is Looking?

December 20, 2018 by

By Barrett Barnes, MD and Adam Skaff

From Barrett Barnes, Associate Program Director, General Pediatrics Residency Program:

I get some great comments about our wonderful house-staff.  Often these are a quick aside from a staff member, parent, nursing staff, teacher and so on. We witness silent acts of kindness: a resident that holds the elevator for a family, a resident that helps a mom hold a food tray while she is juggling to hold her child, a bottle and open the door at the same time, a resident making a point of saying hello to every child that they pass in the hall, the list is endless. These moments, the “who are you when no one is looking?” happen every day.  They are exemplary gifts of grace, humility and kindness that encompass the best of humanity, the best part of pediatrics.

Adam Skaff has a little buddy from his home state of West Virginia that is a huge Mountaineers fan. On his own, Adam reached out to a friend of a friend and what able to get into contact with the coaching staff. They sent back an autographed ball and paraphernalia and best wishes. I am certain this child and his family will never forget this selfless act of kindness.

I am grateful for being a part of Adam’s training and continue to learn from him his kindness and positivity.


From Adam Skaff, 3rd year pediatrics resident (PGY-3):

I first met Grayson as the senior pediatrics resident covering the Hematology/Oncology service. One of my co-residents informed me that Grayson and his family were from West Virginia and wearing WVU clothing. Being from West Virginia and a lifelong WVU fan, I immediately began to bond with Grayson and his family, discussing sports or even things like donuts from the WV state fair.

He presented with a presumed cancer diagnosis and he was very upset given that he would miss a family vacation and attending a WVU football game later in the month in Charlotte, NC. Knowing that Grayson was a WVU football fan, I was able to contact a friend from high school who works for the football team to see if we could arrange to get him something to raise his spirits. After filling out all the necessary paperwork we were able to have a football signed by the entire WVU football team shipped to the pediatric’s floor in time for his discharge from the hospital.

We gave Grayson the ball during night shift and a majority of the floor nurses and staff were there for the surprise. His mother filmed the moment and captured pictures. Once he opened the box and saw the WVU football with his favorite players’ signatures, his face lit up and you could see his excitement. Seeing him so happy while going through a tough time had some people in tears. Personally seeing him happy gave me so much joy and excitement that reminded me of the importance of our work in pediatric medicine. We have to treat the diseases affecting the children but also remember to treat the whole child and make their experience in the hospital as enjoyable as possible.

It was important for me to try to brighten Grayson’s day in order to let him know from the start of his cancer treatment that there are always people cheering for him and in his corner. Since receiving the football and being discharged from the hospital Grayson continues his treatments at home and in clinic and stays in contact from time to time. Soon after discharge he scored a run in his baseball game. My experience caring for Grayson and interacting with his family is one that I will never forget.


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