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New patient advocate ready to help families of sick children
Chattin’ with Sal

New patient advocate ready to help families of sick children

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The Olivia Caldwell Foundation, founded in 2013, has recently expanded its services by adding the position of patient advocate. The mission of the foundation is to fund life-saving pediatric cancer research and programs to improve the lives of children battling cancer and other serious diseases. According to executive director and founder Katie Caldwell-Burchett, the new patient advocate has been charged with becoming an expert in all of the resources available to help Wyoming children and families who face medical complications.

We chatted with patient advocate Katelin Gitthens about what she hopes to bring to the position.

Tell us a bit about your background. I started in November. I had been running a preschool program for children with disabilities in Casper for about two years.

What attracted you to this new position? The ability to continue to help families in the community. It’s nice to be able to do leg work for them when they already have so much on their plates, that way they can just connect to the particular resources that they may need without having to do all of the research behind it.

What have you done in the short time you’ve been on board? I’ve been reaching out to different resources in different counties to try to create awareness — food banks, housing authorities, child care and medical professionals, social workers, so that they are becoming aware of our program as well as so when they come across families who may need different support we have that network going as well.

And explain how Katie sees your role fitting in to the foundation. We tried to create something that was really a connector of all resources that exist. There are so many organizations doing really great things, but very few people know how to find that help.

So what kind of resource connection do you envision being able to offer? Food assistance, housing assistance, school support, getting connected to medical care, counseling, therapy and especially for families who need to go out of state or out of town or even to come here to our clinic from out of town, travel assistance, gas, lodging meal cards. To help connect them to what’s available, that’s our goal.

How do folks with sick children contact you? Call 307-333-1273 or email me at oliviacaldwellfoundation.org.

Totally off the subject, but the staff at the foundation has been really creative about the March fundraiser. Tell us about it. The annual Butterfly Ball is going to be in three locations simultaneously so people are not so crowded. It’s March 13 and we only have a few slots left. The locations are The Hangar, Ramkota and Occasions by Cory. The cost is $120 per couple. We are dividing the reservations up among the three locations, so they don’t really choose. And we are also offering a really fun Prom at Home package for $100 which includes dinner to go from Eggington’s and spirits from Backwards. The deadline is by the end of February for that, but if they want to come in person, they should call right away.

Follow Sally Ann Shurmur on Twitter @wyosas.

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Community News Editor

Sally Ann Shurmur arrived at the Star-Tribune to cover sports two weeks after graduating from the University of Wyoming and now serves as community news editor. She was raised in Laramie and is a passionate fan of Cowboys football, food and family.

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