Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital

A Cancer Journey to Tackle Cancer

On September 8, 2014, Rebecca “Becca” Salmins was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. From day one of her Leukemia diagnosis, Becca’s mission has been to promote awareness and raise funds for childhood cancer research. Throughout her treatment at the Children’s Cancer Institute at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center, she sought out opportunities to give back. Becca, her parents and her sisters are all New York Giants fans and were present at the start of the Tackle Kids Cancer campaign and received numerous visits from players. One special visit with Quarterback Eli Manning inspired Becca and her family to fundraise for Tackle Kids Cancer.

Tackle Kids Cancer is the Children’s Cancer Institute at Hackensack University Medical Center’s initiative to raise funds and awareness for pediatric cancer patients. Dedicated clinicians and researchers are making strides by advancing research and providing children access to the highest level of care. One hundred percent of all donations made to Tackle Kids Cancer benefit the essential clinical care, unique support services and groundbreaking cancer research needed to find a cure. Eli Manning, Tackle Kids Cancer’s Quarterback, was amazed by the many grassroots fundraisers inspired to raise funds. During Tackle Kids Cancer’s first year, schools and scout troops, youth sports teams and civic organizations created dozens of fundraisers all in support of Tackle Kids Cancer. To mark the campaign’s second year, Eli challenged the community to raise more funds for Tackle Kids Cancer and committed $100,000 to match all community donations.  The community exceeded his goal raising $150,000!

Becca, who had an active following on her Facebook page, inspired her friends, family and community to get involved and support her Eli’s Challenge team.  Becca’s team raised over $30,000.  She and her family were recently recognized at the first TKC All-Star event with the Above and Beyond honor.  Eli Manning presented them with their trophy!

In 2016, as her personal cancer journey was inching closer to remission, Becca created a new business to raise funds for Tackle Kids Cancer that would have an even greater impact. Becca created “Knots & Arrows,” a jewelry company with a purpose.  A portion of each purchase is donated back to Tackle Kids Cancer.

Becca is now officially in remission and still campaigns for Tackle Kids Cancer. Eli Manning visits checks-in with Becca, from time to time, and even left her a giant stuffed panda (her favorite) to mark her last day of treatment.

To date Tackle Kids Cancer has surpassed $4.5 million in fundraising all going directly to pediatric cancer research at Hackensack University Medical Center.

President’s Message

Reflecting on significant accomplishments at Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital in 2016, we are proud of the strides team members have made, particularly in areas including research, innovation and quality. Dedicated to caring for Hackensack University Medical Center’s youngest patients, our team consistently demonstrates extraordinary commitment to delivering state-of-the-art, family and patient-centered care with exceptional technical skill and heartfelt compassion.

The year 2016 was marked by the creation of an innovative integrative medicine program developed in the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology. Led by Cindy Steele, M.D., pediatric oncologist and hematologist, and focused on the whole patient, integrative medicine addresses issues such as nutrition, mobility, and long-term effects of chemotherapy. Support from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation is helping with research and collection of data for this innovative program.

To further improve safety and quality, we initiated morning Safety Huddles in inpatient pediatrics. These huddles focus on safety events over the past 24 hours; identify patient concerns, staffing needs and equipment needs; and are intended to be proactive in improving the overall safety of the unit on a daily basis.

Many of our accomplishments would not be possible without exceptional, effective leadership, carried out with great commitment and care. Stephen Percy, M.D., MBA, FAAP, interim chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Hackensack University Medical Center, assumed the role formerly held by Jeffrey R. Boscamp, M.D., who accepted an academic position serving our new School of Medicine. They are both to be commended for a job well done.

As you read of our accomplishments in the past year, 2017 is well underway and we are hard at work to provide comprehensive care at a level that meets and exceeds the expectations of our patients, their families and our community. It is our pleasure and privilege to do everything in our power to promote their healing and support their health and well-being.

Ihor Sawczuk, M.D.
Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center

Benefitting the Community

Hackensack University Medical Center gathered to benefit great causes in 2016, which included hosting the Walk to Cure Arthritis event at MetLife Stadium. Funds raised from the event were used to support research into the causes of and treatment for childhood arthritis. In addition, financial support for Tackle Kids Cancer (TKC) grew to more than $4.5 million thanks to medical center’s partnership with the Giants and with Eli Manning in particular, who personally pledged to match $100,000. TKC supports pediatric cancer research and program services at the Children’s Cancer Institute at Hackensack University Medical Center. It is a partnership of dedicated clinicians and researchers, corporate sponsors, and supporters working to advance medical research to find a cure for pediatric cancer and provide the highest level of care.

Influencing the Future of Medicine

The Hackensack University Medical Center team participated in more than 150 research protocols in 2016, publishing or delivering at least 20 papers, posters and presentations. Derek Hanson, M.D., pediatric oncologist and hematologist, led the implementation of a statewide monthly neuro-oncology tumor board which allows physicians from all over New Jersey to present their patients to an expert panel for advice. Phase 1 trials are being initiated by the Neuro-oncology section with Hackensack University Medical Center as the leader. One example is a trial conducted in children with high-grade gliomas using a device worn on the head that prevents cell division and that has been shown in adults to be more effective in some cases than conventional therapy.

Team participation in national/regional task forces included:

Emergency Department
Usha Avva, M.D., participated in the National Pediatric Readiness Project which seeks to be sure that emergency departments which take care of children are properly equipped and staffed.

Yuki Kimura, M.D., is the national chair for the Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance Registry Alliance Committee which seeks to create a registry for children with arthritis and find ways to fight this often debilitating disease.

Helio Pedro, M.D., co-chairs the New Jersey Newborn Screening Program for Lysosomal Storage Disease, an inherited disorder which can causes severe impairment in children if left untreated.

The Joint Commission
2016 saw recertification by the Joint Commission in Pediatric Asthma as well as Pain and Palliative Care.

Institute for Child Development (ICD)
The ICD was awarded two grants totaling $400,000 from the New Jersey Governor’s Council to create an Autism Medical Home for Children, Adolescents and Young Adults. This will provide comprehensive care for the complex medical and behavioral needs of children and young adults with autism by providing coordination and collaboration with community physicians, behavioral and mental health providers and educational and community resources.

Photopheresis Program
The only pediatric photopheresis program in the state, this program continued to expand to treat children with graft-versus-host disease, a serious condition that can affect children after a bone marrow transplant.

Expanding Services to Our Community

Hackensack University Medical Center programs designed to benefit children expanded in 2016. Enrollment more than doubled in our Healthy Futures program addressing childhood obesity, one of the most pressing issues facing the pediatric population. This year will see the formation of a summer camp to further support these children. Hackensack University Medical Center also created a program for young adults with diabetes, working in collaboration with a medical center program geared toward adults with diabetes.

A Horticultural Therapy Garden was created at the Audrey Hepburn Children’s House with financial assistance from City Green.

The Pediatric Emergency Department team cared for almost 40,000 patients, a seven percent increase over 2015.

Jennifer Northridge, M.D., joined our team to create the Adolescent Medicine Program, a program designed specifically to meet the unique needs of teenagers and young adults.

Stacey Rifkin-Zenenberg, D.O., joined our team to lead the Pain and Palliative Care Program that is designed to not only meet the needs of children at the end of life, but also to recognize that many children have life-altering illnesses and conditions that can benefit from intensive and multidimensional therapies.