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'Frontline for Hope' docu-series captures St. Louis Children’s Hospital

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Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 3:13 pm

St. Louis Children’s Hospital enters the real-to-life TV programming realm on KSDK NewsChannel 5 starting March 16 at 6:30 p.m. with the documentary-style series, “Frontline for Hope,” featuring patients and staff from Children’s and Washington University School of Medicine.

The unique stories of a dozen patients at Children’s Hospital are featured in six episodes. Episode 4 features 5-year-old Dannie, who moved to the U.S. two years ago from Liberia, who was found to have a heart condition; and in Episode 5, 5-year-old Torren, a patient with cerebral palsy; along with newborn twins, Ja’Cailen and Ja’Cylen, born more than 14 weeks prematurely.

Camera crews observed what really happens when a child is transported to the ER after a critical injury; they spent months at bedsides learning how families cope with profound illness, and how bravely children fight through those illnesses; they spoke candidly with physicians and staff about their personal triumphs and losses.

“Unless you have a sick child and experience it firsthand, it can be difficult to comprehend the situations or extent of what occurs here every day,” said Steve Kutheis, director of marketing at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “We wanted something that gave a true-to-life, in-depth and very personal view of our staff and Washington University physicians, and how they help patients and families. But it was important that it be an authentic portrayal of life at the hospital. We didn’t want anything scripted.”

The medical team featured includes F. Sessions Cole, chief medical officer at Children’s; Dr. Dee Hodge, a pediatric emergency medicine physician; Dr. Umar Boston, a pediatric heart and lung surgeon; Debra Paran BSN, RN, CPEN, CPN, an emergency unit pediatric nurse and trauma nurse specialist; LaToya Daughrity RN, a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit assistant nurse manager; as well as several other doctors, nurses and a music therapist.

The program is produced locally as well, by St. Louis-based Coolfire Originals.

“The best programs or series have a setting where the stories walk through the door each day. In this case they walk in, fly in by helicopter, are transported by ambulance and more. The families and staff are amazing and courageous every step of the way. We are privileged to tell their stories,” said Tim Breitbach, vice president, Story & Series Development, Coolfire Originals.

“Children’s Hospital has such a vital role here in St. Louis,” said Lynn Beall, president and general manager of KSDK. “We’re extremely proud to partner on this unique effort that has been produced right here in our own community by Coolfire. This compelling series captures the fight for life and the dedication of doctors and staff at Children’s. I can’t think of more compelling programming.”

To take a closer look at patients featured in the televised broadcast as well as the doctors, nurses and specialists who work on their behalf, visit

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