Ensuring Care for Future Patients Announcing a new Campaign for Sala Institute to meet the needs of children and families when they need it most

Recently we launched an annual campaign to ensure children and their families receive Sala Institute’s vitally important supportive services and resilience programs at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone. We met up with Nell Shanahan, Sala Campaign Cabinet chair and the parent of a former patient at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital to learn more about the campaign.

What is the Sala Campaign and why is it launching now?

The Sala Campaign – what I have described as a kind of “shared commitment,” if you will—is really an effort to both sustain and bolster Sala Institute’s important work—work that exists across four primary domains: safety & quality initiatives, partnerships with families, resiliency programs, and support services. So many of these services are not wholly covered by insurance, and they are the services on which patients and families rely for their healing and wellbeing. This is why we are aiming to raise $1.5 million this year. Hopefully more, actually.

As for why we need this campaign right now, I think there are three primary reasons, though I could certainly list a dozen, at least! First, there are greater numbers of patients and families coming to Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital than we have seen previously. Second, our patients and families’ needs are far more complex today and the procedures far more involved. And third, given the increasing rates of anxiety and depression in children and families, Sala’s services are more vital now than ever.

Nell Shanahan, Sala Campaign Cabinet Chair, with her family.

How did you first become acquainted with Sala Institute?

Well, it all started when I first met Trudy and Bob Gottesman over 20 years ago, before Sala was even created, but when they were both already very much involved in supporting NYU Langone and the children and families served both in and outside of the hospital. It was a time in my life where I was not as focused on philanthropy as, perhaps, I should have been. My early twenties! My profession and my personal relationships were at the forefront. But that wouldn’t remain the case for long. Trudy was an incredible role model for me, and her work at the hospital had a profound effect on helping me recognize the importance of looking beyond your profession and your family and taking part in giving back and, in a way, seeking to heal the world.  So that’s the background.

Fast forward to the founding of Sala almost 10 years ago now, I knew it was an institute I believed in and wanted to commit my time and resources to help. Little did I know then that my six-year-old daughter Hannah would be hospitalized at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital only a few short months after I joined the Sala Circle. She had a seizure in a pool and required monitoring for several days on one of the inpatient units.

What was it like to engage with Sala Institute as a parent, as compared to a donor?

It was a profound experience, to say the least. Although it was understandably scary for Hannah and pretty overwhelming for me, the services that I knew came from Sala, and the clinicians who had participated in so many of Sala’s programs, created a space for Hannah to find joy in her days and comfort in mine, knowing we were both being held emotionally, so carefully and, in a way, lovingly too.

I recall the first morning after our admission when we were waiting for the doctors to round. We were both not quite sure how the day would unfold. We heard a knock and there in the doorway was a child life specialist offering to make some glittery slime with Hannah. You should have seen Hannah’s face! Overjoyed. Later, we turned on the hospital’s TV channel and Hannah had the opportunity to take a ballet lesson from a principal at the New York City Ballet. Later in the day, we walked down the hallway and found a huge interactive board for doodling to your heart’s content. And that was just the first day.

Seeing the kind of work happen live and experiencing the support we received by these clinicians and specialists made me realize how much more I wanted to focus my time and attention on the Institute and all it does for children and families. It was then that I accepted the role of the Sala Campaign Cabinet chair.

Why should others consider donating what they can to the Sala Campaign?

I touched on earlier this idea of what I see as the importance of seeking to heal the world, wherever that piece of the world is. The idea comes from the Jewish tradition and is described as Tikkun Olam- uniting to heal the world. I love the idea that we can each choose to help others heal beyond our own circles. And I think we all have a responsibility to do just that.

I love the idea that we can each choose to help others heal beyond our own circles. And I think we all have a responsibility to do just that.  

Nell Shanahan

Sala Campaign Cabinet Chair

Support the Campaign for Sala