In 2019, The Joint Commission visited Tripler Army Medical Center. The surveyor assigned to the department of pediatrics cited child life services as "a service of immense value that should be emulated in MTFs throughout the country." With the support of command teams, the possibility of creating positions in MTFs can become a reality.
Meeting the unique needs of military families in a remote setting with limited resources has been the most challenging and most rewarding part of Wendy's career. She is humbled and honored to serve exceptionally resourceful, resilient families alongside an amazing group of providers who understand the complexity of providing medical treatment, while giving full consideration of psychosocial needs. She cannot recall a better example of dedication and commitment of a team to provide world-class care.
As Wendy offered legacy making and end-of-life services to an active duty air force family, they shared their desire for their daughter, Kie, to view fireworks one last time, as it was their favorite Friday evening activity. Wendy mentioned this to the attending physician, enlisted the team to donate left-over sparklers from New Year's Eve celebrations, and asked volunteers to join her in producing a "fireworks display" in front of the hospital where Kie could view the fireworks. Within 6 hours, with the support of the commanding officer, the Pacific Region command, Honolulu Air Traffic Control, Honolulu Police and Fire Department, nursing and physicians, a professional fireworks display was executed on post for Kie.
The Commander at Tripler Army Medical Center, and Director, Hawaii Military Health System, Mary V. Krueger, COL, MC, noted, in her change of command speech, "I’ve learned from this team how to question what is within the realm of the possible, committing to stay by your patients’ and family’s side through the most difficult times." She went on to say, "When after consulting with top experts across the country it became evident that a cure was not possible, you turned your energy, your kindness, your compassion, and yes, your love, to supporting Kie’s family in celebrating her life." She ended her speech with: "The greatest reward was Kie’s response, sitting in mom’s lap, the fireworks sparkling in her eyes and the single word, “Beautiful”! It turned out that your push to make the fireworks happen that night was well worth it. The next day Kie drifted from consciousness, having experienced the impact of this team showing love through action. I can think of no better example of a community coming together to SERVE a military family in a manner that exemplifies the meaning of our mission. I could not be more proud, humbled or grateful to have been on the team made up of individuals of this caliber."