Health Care

Akron Children’s Celebrates Tod Family’s Generosity

BOARDMAN, Ohio – More than a decade after Tod Children’s Hospital closed its doors, the Tod family name has returned to the Beeghly Medical Park Campus.

Members of the Tod family and Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley officials were on hand Tuesday afternoon to celebrate the relocation of the hospital’s newly renamed Tod Family Community Outreach Education and Support Center. The Tod family foundation announced a $100,000 gift to support the center, which moved to the Market Street campus from Southwoods Executive Center. A wall at the entrance of the building memorializes the Tod family’s contribution to the hospitals.

Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley was established one year after the closure of Tod Children’s Hospital. But the two hospitals were connected many decades earlier with the Mahoning Valley’s Tod and Perkins families.

In 1891, Col. George Tod Perkins, whose father lived in Warren, was sent to Akron to manage the family’s businesses there. He donated property for the second location of the Mary Day Nursery, which grew into Akron Children’s Hospital. Part of the Youngstown property of Perkins’ uncle, Gov. David Tod of Ohio, was converted into Tod Children’s Hospital in 1972 with funds from the estate of John Tod.

“Both families were champions for children,” remarked William Considine, Akron Children’s CEO emeritus.

Sallie Tod Dutton discovered the connection between the two hospitals during a visit to Akron Children’s before the hospital opening here. She is the daughter of the former governor’s great-grandson, Fred Tod, who, as president of the Youngstown Hospital Association board of directors, oversaw the creation of Tod Children’s Hospital.

While at Akron Children’s, Tod Dutton saw a picture of Perkins and recognized the spelling of her family’s name. Her subsequent research discovered that the families had married.

That sealed the deal for her, she recalled. “I felt like I could embrace it,” she said.

“Whether we wanted to admit it or not, this deal was struck many years ago, well before our time,” Considine said.

Established more than 40 years ago at Tod Children’s Hospital, the Community Outreach Education and Support Center offers what Grace Wakulchik, CEO and president of Akron Children’s, describes as two “buckets” of services. One is education for patients with chronic conditions such as asthma or diabetes, which covers issues ranging from how to give insulin shots to how to participate in sports as a diabetic.

The other is a set of community outreach initiatives, including safe-sitter and car seat instruction. In addition, there is a program to help students who have been out of school for an extended period of treatment. Staff is sent to schools to help teachers and students understand any special precautions that need to be taken to prevent infection, or to explain any physical changes of the returning students.

“It’s what makes us special. We focus on kids and what they need,” Wakulchik said.

Kim Priban, clinical director, and Heather Wuensch, community outreach director, are taking over the program from founding director Kathie Ashton, and will oversee a combined staff of nine.

“Now when [patients] come to see their providers they can be referred here right away,” Priban said. “This space is easier for them to coordinate care among multiple specialties and practices.”

The space is kid-friendly and “purposely put in this corner to keep it way from the emergency room” and other places where a lot of the chronically ill kids go when they come to the hospital, she said. “This is off the beaten path. They can come in the back door and not be where they were afraid, so it kind of fosters that whole openness and friendliness,” she added.

“The location is ideal because we’ve got conference rooms on either side of the office,” Wuensch added. “Families can go out, they can have their car seat education, they can meet with someone one-on-one. … Everything can be delivered here.”

Pictured: (William Considine, Akron Children’s CEO emeritus, Kathie Ashton, Sallie Tod Dutton, Grace Wakulchik, CEO and president of Akron Children’s, David Tod II and Dichel Owsley.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.