Family Faculty

Family Faculty Group Family Faculty are parents and family members whose children have received or are still receiving services at Children's Specialized Hospital Inpatient, Outpatient, or Long Term Care sites. Their own day-to-day experiences provide a unique perspective, understanding, and empathy for families going through similar situations. Family Faculty partner with staff and families to build a respectful and understanding relationship by listening, providing insights, and encouraging positive communication between staff and families.

Examples of Family Faculty partnerships with staff and families include:

  • Talk and listen to families who receive a new diagnosis
  • Offer support to a new family/first time therapy/first time evaluation
  • Help with a concerned parent who feels his/her child is not making enough progress
  • Support families who are being prepared for discharge
  • Provide family to family resources
  • Offer the perspective of being a caregiver of a child with special needs
  • Share information with all staff on the emotions families may go through and how this might affect all aspects of care and communication
  • Review written correspondence that will be going out to families and offer suggestions from a family perspective
  • Organize educational workshops for families on various topics pertaining to their children’s needs
  • Maintain Resource Boards and Resource Rooms
  • Present on Patient Experience at the Embark System Orientation for new hires
  • Partner with our Leadership Team to provide new employee orientation and sharing information on Patient and Family-Centered Care, Family Faculty, Family Advisory, and a Family Perspective on what it is like to receive services at Children's Specialized Hospital
  • Discuss with families the value of their input and importance of completing their Press Ganey Patient and Family Satisfaction Survey
  • Help staff in building relationships with families and one another
  • Family Faculty participate on the Hospital Board of Directors and all other hospital committees and councils
  • Prepare and distribute monthly E-Newsletters to families
  • Present at Regional, National and International Conferences on Patient and Family-Centered Care

Meet Our Team

Donna Provenzano

Donna Provenzano (Director of Family Centered Care)

Pat O'Hanlon

Pat O'Hanlon (Family Faculty Manager) - Pat brought her son Kenny to Children's Specialized Hospital at six months of age. Kenny has Cerebral Palsy and has received multiple services at CSH. Pat is also a Family Advisory Council member.

Angelica Angeles

Angelica Angeles - Angelica's daughter, Amerie, was inpatient at CSH for about 5 months. She was receiving outpatient radiation at RWJUH while also receiving all therapies available in our New Brunswick inpatient facility. Amerie came in towards the end of a protocol treatment for a rare childhood brain cancer, was globally delayed and needed a lot of help with every day care. Angelica mentions how Amerie blossomed here at CSH and that she was able to see a part of her little girl coming back to the surface. Angelica is honored to have joined the Family Faculty team at CSH.

Cheryl Hold

Cheryl Hold - Cheryl is appreciative of the exceptional services CSH continues to provide to all of her children.

Lucy Jimenez

Lucy Jimenez - Lucy brought her son Xavier to Children's Specialized Hospital's Special Needs Primary Care in Hamilton, NJ. Xavier has Cerebral Palsy after a traumatic childbirth. He has received physical, occupational, and speech therapy. He also uses Neuro Development and Physiatrist services at CSH.

Jessica Krill

Jessica Krill - Jessica started at Children’s Specialized Hospital as a mom of 2 children with disabilities 21 years ago. She has been a part of Family Faculty for over 17 years. Jessica has been providing invaluable support to families dealing with the challenges of raising a child with a disability. Jessica is passionate about helping others.

Nancy Panarese

Nancy Panarese - Nancy is raising her grandson Christian who has been receiving services since the age of 9 months. She values the partnerships and team approach so that Christian can reach his full potential.

Shanette Pereira

Shanette Pereira - Shanette’s son was an inpatient at CSH for 6 months after sustaining a Traumatic Brain Injury. He also received services at the outpatient site in New Brunswick.

Elizabeth Marcketta

Elizabeth Marcketta - Elizabeth's son Tommy receives services at CSH related to his diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Elizabeth and her family are so grateful to everyone at CSH for helping Tommy feel comfortable with who he is and for providing the support for Tommy to learn how to be his best self. Elizabeth loves working with and helping provide support for other families at CSH.

Luciana Mendes-McGuire

Luciana Mendes-McGuire - Luciana's daughter, Ariana, came to Children's Specialized Hospital after being in the PICU for six weeks due to a Traumatic Brain Injury. During her two months as an Inpatient she relearned how to eat, walk, and talk. Ariana’s cognitive abilities were also damaged – upon discharge she enrolled in the Children’s Specialized Hospital outpatient Neurorehablitation program and continues to receive physical, speech, and occupational therapy.

Sonia Rita

Sonia Rita - Sonia has been a member of Family Faculty since 2021 and a member of the Family Advisory Council since 2016. Sonia’s daughter, Izzy, began receiving services at Children’s Specialized in 2014 when she was 13 months old after being diagnosed with a spinal cord tumor. Sonia is thankful to everyone at CSH for their kindness and support in helping Izzy reach her greatest potential.

Fei Shan

Fei Shan - Fei is very appreciative of the services her children have been receiving at CSH. She understands the frustration and vulnerability of being a parent and can relate to the families CSH serves. Fei embraces her role as Family Faculty and finds it very rewarding when she can support a family in need by providing resources, encouragement, or by being a compassionate listener.

Deidre Torrone

Deidre Torrone - Deidre has been an employee at Children’s Specialized Hospital for 22 years. She has 3 children who have received outpatient therapy services and neurodevelopmental evaluations for the past 15 years.

Melissa Velez

Melissa Velez - Kaleb, Melissa’s 6 year-old-son, has been receiving services at Children’s Specialized Hospital since 2019 at 2 years old. Attending multiple therapies for his ASD diagnosis, Kaleb has made significant progress. Melissa, understands the challenges families experience with an ASD diagnosis,
is dedicated to supporting others navigating similar situations.

Lizandra Vincent

Lizandra Vincent - Liz brought her daughter, Bella, to CSH Inpatient when she was 8 months old straight from the NICU to learn her medical care and start rehabilitation. Bella continues to receive Outpatient Therapy Services and is followed by CSH’s Specialized Pediatricians and other specialists. Liz is so grateful for the care and services her daughter has and continues to receive at CSH. She is also honored to have joined the Family Faculty Team in 2022 supporting families in their journeys.

Linda Waddell

Linda Waddell - Linda is thankful for Children’s Specialized Hospital and the support they have given to her family caring for their daughter who has cerebral palsy. It has taken the village of CSH to raise Kara.

Isabel Whitenak

Isabel Whitenak - Isabel brought her son Andy to CSH when he was 2 years old. He received Outpatient Therapy Services and Neurodevelopmental evaluations. Isabel is so thankful for the services he received at CSH and honored to have joined the Family Faculty Team in 2021.

Patient Stories

  • After open heart surgery, 7-year-old Lily's biggest concern was the availability of blue ice pops and the unpleasant taste of acetaminophen. “Considering that she had open heart surgery, I'll take those complaints any day!” said her mother, Denise.

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  • When reflecting back on his time in the Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Program, Adrian said, “I had fun the entire time.”

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  • “The entire diagnosis process at Children’s Specialized Hospital was so quick – it was a miracle to have answers,”

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Patient Stories

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