Department Spotlight: Children’s Infusion Services

By: Alana Ridge

December 15, 2023

The Children's Infusion Services team at Renown Children's Hospital poses for a Christmas card photo.

Help us celebrate the holiday season by sharing joy with our Children’s Infusion Services team! 

Thinking about blood can make any of us squeamish, and seeing it can be even more intimidating to the children in our lives. Being treated for a condition that requires blood transfusions or chemotherapy infusions is no easy feat, especially during the holiday season. This time of year, we are proud that we can offer our pediatric patients the power of proximity and excellence by having access to high level care close to home. 

The Children’s Infusion Services (CIS) department at Renown Children’s Hospital is committed to bringing the gift of quality care to our community’s youngest patients. Whether they are caring for a child with a blood disorder or giving expert infusion care for a child battling cancer, no team does what they do better than these expert nurses, medical assistants, intake coordinators and physicians. 

‘Tis the Season to Bring Hope

As the only pediatric oncology and hematology program in the region, the CIS department has a lot of responsibility on their shoulders. From inpatient chemotherapy to outpatient infusion services, this team treats a long list of pediatric blood conditions including: 

  • Pediatric cancers
  • Anemias
  • Immune-mediated blood disorders
  • Sickle-cell disease
  • Bone marrow failure syndromes
  • Bleeding disorders 

“Our team provides a large variety of services from labs draws, sedations for procedures, infusions for diagnoses such as Crohn's disease, blood transfusions, as well as chemotherapy,” said Jen Torres, RN.  “Our team works extremely well together. We try to go above and beyond for our patients every day. It may be something as simple as a hug to comfort a parent or a special birthday gift for a patient.” 

“My job allows me to work with several departments and providers when coordinating care for our littlest of patients,” added Jane Strawn, Intake Coordinator. “I assure proper authorizations are in place for the care that is needed, I communicate with our families when scheduling appointments, I organize End of Treatment Celebrations, as well as birthday shout outs and work closely with our Child Life team to help make the challenging appointment little easier.” 

To best serve their patients, the team thrives on being expert multitaskers. Central line care, chemotherapy administration, blood transfusions, medication management, preventative injections, lab draws, lumbar punctures, biopsies, imaging – you name it, they do it. And they do it all with the utmost focus on safety and support. 

“Our days have a lot of variation, as we perform a number of different services,” said Meagan Bertotti, RN. “We provide infusions for patients with chronic or acute medical conditions and chemotherapy/biotherapy treatment to patients undergoing cancer treatments. Overall, though, we work as a team to make these difficult procedures and treatments as easy as possible for the patients and families by providing engagement and support.” 

“While we handle a lot of chemotherapy treatments for pediatric patients, we also do other infusions and transfusions as well such as blood and platelet transfusions, enzyme replacement therapies, different types of injections such as Rabies vaccine or Synagis for high-risk babies who need that extra protection during the RSV season, and lab draws,” said Chelsea Angues, RN. “We care for patients that get their therapies from outside hospitals, but the patient lives within the Reno area. We receive orders from those outside hospitals to care for those patients, so they can still be with their families and not have to travel.” 

As members of the Children’s Oncology Group, a highly-regarded clinical trials group where over 90% of pediatric cancer patients across the U.S. receive treatment, teams like CIS in Renown Children’s Hospital deliver the highest standard of care. This partnership is a true testament to the devoted collaboration and relationship-building this team commits to on behalf of their patients every day. 

"One of the biggest accomplishments of our team is the fact that we became a member of the Children’s Oncology Group, and the Children's Infusion Center and Pediatric Oncology became one unit,” said Shelby Nolte. "Instead of being a clinic on one side and an infusion center on the other, we really came together to make it a whole unit that collaborates on almost everything.” 

“We've put much time into trying to understand other departments, their flow, their rationales and their processes so we can come to a solution that benefits our patients the greatest,” added Tiffany Macie, RN. “We've taken the last few years to really build our relationships with our pharmacy staff, our lab staff and our central supply resources. Our relationship building extends beyond the walls of the Renown building as well and out to the community providers too. In the past few years, we've been able to build relationships with the providers in the community where they trust they can send us their patients for treatment and lab draws. Finally, we've spent much time working on the relationships as a team. It's emotional work we do on our unit, and these families become our family. It's important to us that we take the time to be together outside of our shifts to enjoy one another and laugh!” 

In the compassionate realm of pediatric healthcare, CIS knows that the complexities of a cancer or blood disorder diagnosis can take an emotional toll on their patients and families. The team firmly believes that emotional support can be as important as the physical and medical support throughout each patient’s unique care journey, striving to be a comforting presence during daunting times. 

“The most important part of my day is collaborating with the Children's Infusion team to make life manageable for the families that are going through this experience,” added Shelby Nolte, Senior Medical Assistant. “We work as a team to make life easier for the blow of a cancer diagnosis.  We are there for our families in every way.  If they need a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen or just someone to play cards with or tell a funny story too, we are there.” 

“One of the things our team does extremely well to help our patients and their families with new diagnoses is to simply meet them where they are,” said Tiffany Macie. “That looks different for every family and every patient. We work in an environment where can build relationships with our patients and their families. This allows us the unique opportunity to really get to know them. We learn their fears, their joys, their worries, what their family lives are like, and we learn how to best meet them where they are.” 

Transcending the conventional boundaries of care, the CIS department closely supports each patient, offering them solace tailored to the unique fabric of each family's life. 

Come Work With Us

Four Renown employees

Come Work With Us

Renown Health strives for excellence in all we do and want you to be a part of that. We offer careers in allied health, information technology, management, nursing and professional and support services.

They’ve Got Their Love to Keep Them Warm 

Think about the most loving and caring person you know. Now, double that amount of love. Even triple it. That’s the level of heart that our youngest patients can expect when they arrive at CIS for care. Every team member reiterates one major theme: they love these kids. 

“I love my patients,” said Jen Torres. “I know it sounds cliche, but I truly appreciate getting to know my patients and their families and being able to build a relationship with them. They have been presented with devastating news in most cases and I feel like my role is to ensure that they feel safe and supported throughout their journey.” 

“I enjoy coming into work knowing that I will be working with the best team possible,” added Chelsea Angues. “That includes our patient population and their families. We truly invest in our patients. From the beginning of their treatment, whether it’s their chemotherapy journey, multiply blood transfusion, other infusions such as enzyme replacement therapies, or patients that only lab draws. We are here with them and their families from beginning, to end and beyond.” 

Every employee in CIS lives by the motto, “It’s a privilege to provide.” According to these team members, regardless of the diagnosis, they have quite a few tricks up their sleeves to meet each patient and family member where they are knowledge-wise when guiding them through every treatment. 

“Our entire team has many years of experience within pediatrics; how we care for our patients and their families depends on their situation,” said Chelsea Angues. “For example, when starting a blood draw on a toddler, it’s difficult for the child to understand why we need to collect blood, so we have distraction tools such as the Buzzy Bee, spinning toys that lights up and iPads for movies to help distract the patient from the actual poke itself. Talking through whatever procedure the patient needs is also very helpful, especially to our teenage patients. Developmentally, they can understand at a certain level their plan of care and what to expect. Teenagers also appreciate that we talk with them directly. They feel like they are part of their care.” 

“Every family and every patient are different, and being able to learn their unique needs and be there for them in their care is such a privilege,” added Tiffany Macie. “For some, it’s going to look like providing very structured education regarding diagnosis, drug side effects, what to expect in the days ahead, very detailed things that allows them to have some sort of control in a situation that is so far beyond their control. For others, it is going to look like learning how they like their coffee, having it ready when they come through our doors and being ready to give them a hug. For the patients, it is learning what they like. Do they have a favorite snack? Do they like their vital signs taken in a certain order? Allowing the patient to have a say in their care at every possible chance allows them to feel like they have some control in their quickly changing world. Little Johnny likes it when we take the temperature last and put his blood pressure cuff on the left arm? No problem! We can do that!” 

Difficult procedures can bring pediatric patients immense feelings of fear and anxiety for , but luckily for them, CIS is here to bring the best possible comfort for every child, tailored uniquely to their interests and age level. 

“During painful or uncomfortable procedures, we offer comfort measures to the patients which change depending on the patient's age or cognitive level,” said Meagan Bertotti. “We engage the family about life outside of the hospital to really get to know our patients and how to best support them. We work with Child Life specialists for patients that need additional support. We also have a social worker who works directly with oncology patients and their families.” 

Each team member’s dedication to their patients resonates deeply within our entire health system – and these efforts never go unnoticed by their patients and families. 

“I am most proud of the relationships I have built with families and patients,” said Jen Torres. “A resident once complimented how compassionate and kind I was while I communicated with family receiving a new diagnosis and this single comment filled me with pride for the job that I do.” 

Always Giving the Gift of Health 

The holiday spirit rings year-round within the CIS department. With generous and kindhearted personalities filling the team, choosing a career helping children in need of expert medical care was the obvious decision for these team members. 

“When I was a nursing student, the one thing I knew for certain as a nursing student was that I wanted to be a pediatric nurse,” said Tiffany Macie. “I was so passionate about my goal that my instructors were able to set up my final semester practicum on Renown's Pediatric Acute unit. I had fallen in love with the unit, the patients, the staff and the leadership. I knew when it was time to apply for jobs as a new graduate RN, Renown Children's was exactly where I wanted to call home. Now, 13 and half years later, I still feel that same sense of love for what we do for our area's pediatric population. Coming to work at Renown Children's allows me to be a part of something so much bigger than me by affording me the opportunity to be a part of these children and their family's lives. There is no greater honor.” 

Anyone who ever needs a stellar example of a team that emulates Renown’s ”Caring” cultural commitment can look to CIS. They masterfully honor this commitment by not only uplifting their patients but also uplifting each other. 

“The compassion and excellence that is shown on a daily basis, from our patient access representatives to our pharmacists and our wonderful providers, who truly exemplify Renown’s values,” said Jane Strawn. “The incredible support that is given from our manager Ginger Kuhnmuench is unmatched. Our nurses go above and beyond every day to provide the best care possible for not only our Pediatric Oncology patients but any patient that requires infusions, lab draws and special procedures that we provide in our clinic.” 

“I am so proud of our entire team,” added Chelsea Angues. “I have never experienced a team as wonderful as mine. It makes a world of difference especially when working with such a wide range of pediatric patients and diagnoses.” 

“As I am new to the team, I have been amazed at how wonderful the teamwork and support is,” added Meagan Bertotti. “During my training and beyond, every team member has been willing to answer any question and provide support.” 

At Renown Children’s Hospital, your career fight is our fight too. Our CIS department is looking for compassionate and collaborative team members to make a lifelong impact on our youngest patients. 

“To be a good colleague in Children’s Infusion Services, you have to be flexible, detail oriented, and absolutely love what you do,” said Tiffany Macie. “Our days are never the same, and we have to be ready to roll with whatever our schedule looks like. Attention to detail is paramount to ensure our patients remain safe. When you love what you do, it's easy to be a good colleague; you're ready to jump in when a colleague needs and extra set of hands, you're ready to back them up when things get busy and most importantly, when you love what you do, you're ready to laugh every day when you're with your team.” 

“It is incredibly important to be dedicated to providing the very best care to patients and their families,” added Meagan Bertotti. “Through this dedication, we continue to pursue educational opportunities and support one another to develop a safe environment for the patients we serve.” 

In a career dedicated to the well-being of our community’s children, the sentiment of fulfillment and passion resonates deeply among this team. And to them, they’ve found the best possible workplace to serve the many patients who need them most. 

“I have chosen the best team and the best place to work,” said Shelby Nolte. “I can't express the love I have for this group of people that dedicate their lives to the caring of others in such a time of need.” 

“I absolutely love my job, coworkers and leadership,” added Jen Torres. “There is no place I would rather work!” 

For CIS, the work they do is not just a job; it’s a calling that embodies the profound love they have for the patients and families they serve and the coworkers they stand beside. 

“Our unit is small, but we are mighty. We are capable of so many things. People often refer to their colleagues as their work family and for us in CIS, family is exactly what we are. We celebrate one another and each other's life events, and we ride those lows together when they come. We are a family, and that allows us to feel like our patients are family too!” closes Tiffany Macie. 
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