It’s Personal: Putting Patients First at Mylan Australia

August 28, 2019

Every quarter, the employees at Mylan Australia choose a different charity to support. But when the team decided to raise money for Queensland’s only hospice for children with life limiting conditions, the choice was especially personal for Mylan Laboratory Supervisor Trudi Aykens.

Aykens had been to Hummingbird House before – several times in fact – with her 15-year-old son, Marcus, who has cerebral palsy. For her family, the stays at this unique facility have given them the opportunity to get to know other families in similar circumstances and get extra support for Marcus.

“It’s hard to describe the feeling of being at Hummingbird House,” Aykens said. “To me it’s beautiful, happy and heartbreakingly sad all at once.”

In July, Aykens joined her Mylan colleagues at Hummingbird House to present them with more than AU$17,000 that employees raised throughout the second quarter. The money will be used to help pay for staff at the facility, which provides all of its services to families for free.

The team in Australia is committed to giving back to the community, and they have a strong history of raising money for those in need. Earlier this year, the site nominated another local charity, Autism QLD, to raise money after Production Operator Tamara Tomkinson shared the story of her son, Hudson. He was like any child his age, reaching all of his developmental milestones, when he suddenly stopped talking. Tomkinson recalled when her son was diagnosed with autism and how answers were not easy to find.

“I asked so many questions like why was he able to talk but now can’t? Or will he ever talk again? Will he ever find a way to get past his sensory issues? But every question was answered the same way - “we don’t know” or “not enough research has been done,’” Tomkinson said. “The pain of not knowing why or how your child is like this is unbelievable.”

The team raised more than AU$10,000 for Autism QLD, which provides specialized education and therapy for children on the autism spectrum.

“I have cried on many occasions and felt like I am failing as a mum but when I get home and see Hudson smiling and happy to see me, all the bad vanishes. I wouldn’t change my son for the world, but I will change the world for my son,” Tomkinson said.

Inspired by Tomkinson’s story, Aykens decided to share with colleagues about her son and Hummingbird House. Aykens and other Mylan employees toured the facility with Dr. Fiona Hawthorne, Hummingbird House’s General Manager, and saw firsthand the important work being done there.

“There were times we were all brought to tears listening to not only the heartbreak these families go through, but the touching stories of support the staff provide. We listened to stories of children being allowed to spend their last moments with their families under the stars, different celebrations of life the staff and families take part in, and the opportunity Hummingbird House provides children to experience nature and the outside world, which they might not otherwise get to do,” said Curtis Sutton, Human Relations Business Partner for Mylan Australia.

The Mylan team held Easter and Mother’s Day raffles, contributed direct donations, had a pie sale and a baked goods sale on Fete day to raise the money for Hummingbird House.

Aykens said her family was first introduced to the facility through the palliative care team at a local children’s hospital.

The house serves as an alternative to a hospital for a child who is on a trial for a new medication or needs time to recover from surgery or illness but isn’t quite ready to return home yet. Doctors are on call and visit regularly.

Volunteers keep siblings occupied while parents have a break or socialize with other parents in a variety of activities from basket weaving to yoga. Meanwhile, patients are treated to a range of activities, including art and music therapy and time in a hydrotherapy pool.

Hummingbird House also provides end-of-life support and assistance for families. During her first stay at the house, Aykens said she witnessed the care and love provided to these families firsthand when a baby boy arrived with just days to live. He was accompanied by his parents, sister and grandparents.

“The doctors, nurses, carers and other staff were incredible, and it was truly a humbling experience to even briefly glimpse how they embraced this family during such an unimaginably terrible time,” Aykens said.

Since that first stay, Aykens and her family have visited Hummingbird House several times and she’s grateful for the opportunity to get to know other families like hers while Marcus is spoiled by caretakers.

“I really can’t imagine that someday we could be in the position of the family who arrived here during our first stay,” Aykens said. “But should the day come when we need to say goodbye to our beautiful boy, I know that Hummingbird House will be there to support us for however long we need them.”

Learn more about Hummingbird House and how you can help here