Spotlight on Director of the Therapeutic Services Lori Turgeon
Lori Turgeon, PT, DPT has been a valued Shriners Children’s Boston staff member since 2006. A Northeastern University graduate and physical therapist by training, Lori worked as a staff therapist until 2018 when she stepped up to lead the therapeutic services department. “From a managerial perspective, I enjoy having a seat at the table and being able to advocate for my team. So much of what our child life specialists and physical and occupational therapists do is vital to our patients from both a psychosocial and a physical standpoint. Being able to make sure our team has what they need is very rewarding,” Lori shared.
Surrounded by talented care providers, Lori and her team help patients make important strides towards better burn care management and rehabilitation.
Lori oversees the therapeutic services and child life teams, as well as the medical photography department, which includes 10 full-time staff, 15-20 per diem associates and three different vendor relationships. One of these is a medical equipment company that provides patients with garments for scar management. Two others involve contracted services. The hospital has a long-standing agreement with a make-up artist who offers a clinic and teaches patients how to use reconstructive make-up for visible scars. Lori also oversees the relationship with the Mass General Hospital speech therapy team for the cleft lip and palate program.
While each specialty within her department has a unique focus, they all share the same goal. “In assisting in a child’s recovery it is important to cultivate a positive dynamic between the patient, family and therapist. We work to understand their goals and their clinical needs so we can appropriately support them and achieve the best outcomes,” Lori said.
The child life team works primarily on patient and family focused support with psychosocial recovery at the heart. Our child life specialists help to reduce stress and anxiety during the patient and family’s time at the hospital, using age appropriate play to help build coping skills.
The therapy team works one-on-one with patients to help them regain strength, confidence and independence. Physical and occupational therapists develop plans appropriate for each individual patient, working with children to help get them back to where they were. This is an important but sometimes challenging component of the recovery process.
Our medical photographer Sue is always is willing to help anyone at a moment’s notice. “She knows this place inside and out, and is an adopted member of almost all the clinical teams in the hospital because she works so closely and well with everybody, and always has a positive attitude about it,” Lori shared.
Before the pandemic, Lori’s team supported a number of recovery programs at Shriners Children’s Boston. This includes a wellness program, a collaboration between child life, therapy, and nutrition staff to provide wellness education for patients and families. Other programs include pet therapy, which brings trained service animals to visit with patients, and Team Brave, a community reintegration program sponsored by the Boston Firefighter Burn Foundation. Each program is designed to bring better health and wellness to patients and families in the aftermath of an injury. While some programs have been on hold due to COVID-19, planning is underway to safely resume these activities.
Throughout her career at Shriners Children’s Boston, Lori has marveled at the resilience of her patients. When reflecting on some of her favorite patient interactions, Lori spoke about the incredible strength of the children she works with. In one instance, a patient came to Shriners Children’s Boston from her home country of Belize with an extensive burn injury that resulted in the loss of many of her fingers. Despite her injury, the patient pushed through her recovery with determination and grace, becoming an extraordinary inspiration to other patients and hospital staff. Following the procedure, she engaged in many of the rehabilitation programs offered, writing her feelings in songs during music therapy, and gaining strength and confidence through Team Brave outings such as horseback riding and yoga.
Another burn patient came to Shriners Children’s Boston from Honduras after sustaining severe burns causing the loss of function in his hands. Despite the challenges of his rehabilitation, this resilient teenager maintained amazing communication with his care team and stayed motivated to get better, even going so far as to help encourage and inspire other patients. Lori shared that seeing this young man’s progress is an incredible boost to staff. “It inspires us to know that the things we are doing are important and are actually making a difference,” she said.
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