Meet Quinn Franklin

Meet Quinn Franklin, Assistant Director of the Cancer and Hematology Center.

This month, HGF had the opportunity to sit down with Quinn Franklin, learn more about her professional background, and discuss His Grace Foundation’s meaningful impact on the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at Texas Children’s Hospital.

HGF: Tell me a little bit about your background. How did you first get into child-life and then went on to pursue your PhD which ultimately led to your role at TCH.

Quinn: I always knew I wanted to work with children and was very interested in helping children who were experiencing life-threatening illnesses and supporting them with issues like managing their stress and/or anxiety, while also helping them cope and promoting their growth and development. I happened to be at a university (The University of Alabama) that offered a degree in Child Life, and as soon as I learned about the program, I knew immediately that this was what I wanted to do – I wanted to be a child life specialist.

I went on to pursue my Master’s degree in Child Life from the University of Alabama and completed two internships – first, at the undergraduate level at Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital. This hospital, which is a children’s hospital within an adult system, gave me the opportunity to work with many different pediatric patient populations in the heart of Manhattan.

For my graduate-level internship, I knew that I wanted to work in a freestanding children’s hospital, which ultimately led me to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). At CHOP, I trained in hematology/oncology and emergency medicine. These environments were very different, but both were fast-paced and treated high-acuity patients and their families.

My career at Texas Children’s Hospital started in the Emergency Center (EC) as a child life specialist in 2003. This afforded me an incredible opportunity to provide services for the whole family during a very stressful time in their lives and set the tone for the remainder of their hospital visit. I especially enjoyed the opportunity to refine my assessment skills so I could tailor and individualize a care plan for each child and their family. My training at CHOP laid the groundwork for working with children with cancer and blood disorders, and I have continued to build on this foundation throughout my career.

To gain a deeper understanding of children’s growth and development, identify their response to stimuli, and to discover the best interventions, I made the decision to pursue my PhD and graduated from the program in 2020.

The focus of my career has been the psychosocial needs of children and their families, and as I have grown as a professional, my roles have evolved, too.

HGF: What has your experience been like working in the Cancer and Hematology Center at Texas Children’s? What do you enjoy most about it? What has been the greatest challenge?

Quinn: What I enjoy the most is seeing the psychosocial team being so thoughtful and creative in the way they support children, adolescents and families across the Cancer and Hematology Center. This can range from one-on-one sessions where the child is developing coping skills to the team creating experiences that are unique and special – experiences that make the environment here at the hospital more child-, adolescent- and family-friendly.

The greatest challenge is supporting each child and their family in a way that works best for them. I feel incredibly privileged and honored to be in this role. My experience at Texas Children’s has been very fulfilling and meaningful. The organization’s leadership is extremely committed to delivering state-of-the-art psychosocial care to meet the needs of our patients and their families. Texas Children’s is also very supportive of me as a woman in leadership.

HGF: What do you think makes the bone marrow transplant experience unique compared to the rest of the Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Center?

Quinn: The significance of the treatment and what it means for the child and their family is an aspect of the transplant experience that is unique to these families. Each experience includes a lengthy hospital admission which is followed by a need to remain in close proximity to Texas Children’s for follow-up care. This is very challenging for families, being away from their community, their support network.

HGF: How do you find working with His Grace Foundation?

Quinn: His Grace Foundation provides much-needed and greatly appreciated services to our bone marrow transplant patient population.

I love that your team is mindful of your history and intentional about your future. You think about the here and now and look ahead to what you can accomplish in the future.

For example, the admission baskets you provide to our patient families…are so much more than a basket. There is a great deal of thought put into them. Every single item is specifically selected based on other families’ experiences with transplant so new families have items that will support their child’s transplant.

At His Grace, you are saying, “Even if you don’t know that you need this yet, we know that you need it…. We also are introducing ourselves because we know this is about to be tough. We want you to recognize that we’re here for you in whatever way works for you…and we’re hoping to address some fun and fundamental needs for you and your child while you’re here.”

You do all of this, and then continue to show up for families with meal deliveries and special programs. It’s literally and figuratively feeding the family’s hearts, their minds and their bodies and I believe it makes them feel cared for.

HGF: How is His Grace Foundation similar or different from other organizations?

Quinn: The organization addresses families’ fundamental needs while also going above and beyond. From a programming perspective, programming plays an important part in trying to create experiences that are inviting for the children, which promotes their growth and development and lets children be themselves.

His Grace connects with every family in the bone marrow transplant unit and continues to support through survivorship. Through His Grace, we have a dedicated Activity Coordinator, Paige Boni, for these children, adolescents and their families. Paige works with the children one-on-one and implements inpatient and outpatient programs that allow all ages of children to be engaged in play and diversion throughout their experience at Texas Children’s.

HGF: What do you find has been most valuable about His Grace Foundation’s partnership with Texas Children’s Hospital and/or the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit?

Quinn: That’s hard to say… The longevity of this relationship is what I find quite remarkable. Texas Children’s can pick up the phone and talk through unique situations with His Grace and make a plan for how to support a family. Because of this partnership, we can think broadly and systemically, and we can think about each individual family and what they might find to be helpful.