Female doctor with dark skin tone and dark hair smiles with arms crossed in hospital room
Hospital News

Prescription for Success

Jeanine Hall, MD, MPH, a mom and physician at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, guides her daughters—and more than 100 of their schoolmates—to help others through the hospital’s Junior Ambassadors program.

Despite juggling a full-time career as an emergency medicine physician and researcher at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and being a mom of three girls, Jeanine Hall, MD, MPH, couldn’t say “no” when her daughters’ elementary school asked her to co-chair its community service program.

“Community service was my happy place,” she says, reflecting on her experiences, from being a weekend volunteer at a Salvation Army kitchen to serving on international medical missions during medical school. “I’ve always loved to volunteer and help my community. So, I was happy to make time to get back into it as a mom.”

A fundamental part of the elementary school’s curriculum is having students and families participate in service activities for four Los Angeles-area nonprofits, including Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

One of Dr. Hall’s colleagues recommended that she connect with the hospital’s Junior Ambassadors program, which is designed to engage children and teens in supporting the hospital and raising awareness of pediatric health care. The program inspires kids to help by volunteering, speaking at hospital and community events, and organizing their own fundraisers, such as walkathons, lemonade stands and yard sales to benefit CHLA.

The start of something good

Three young girls with dark skin tone smile as they sell hot chocolate on Halloween
Left to right: Sydney, Morgan and Harper raised funds for CHLA at their hot chocolate stand.

For the past two years on Halloween, Dr. Hall’s two older daughters, Sydney, 8, and Morgan, 7, have hosted a hot chocolate and apple cider stand to benefit CHLA.

“When they were hanging up signs in the neighborhood, people came up to them and asked about it,” Dr. Hall says. “Everybody had a CHLA story, whether it was from 20 years ago or more recent— they were a patient or had a child or a relative who had received care at the hospital. It made it special to hear all the good things people said about their experiences.”

Many of Sydney’s and Morgan’s schoolmates decided to join the Junior Ambassadors and have collaborated on various fundraisers, including making and selling bracelets, organizing bake sales and throwing birthday parties where, in lieu of gifts, guests donated to CHLA. Last Christmas, a fellow Junior Ambassador’s parent made ornaments from his company’s donated scrap metal for the other Junior Ambassadors to sell.

“We set up a stand at our church and we didn’t set a price for the ornaments, but we invited people to make a donation,” Dr. Hall recalls. “One of the members of our church was so impressed at what the girls were doing and donated $100.”

Now in her second year as a parent co-chair of the school’s community service program, Dr. Hall says that more than 100 of her daughters’ schoolmates have become Junior Ambassadors.

In fact, Dr. Hall’s whole family has become involved in supporting the hospital. Her husband, Maurice, amplifies the girls’ efforts on social media; their youngest daughter, Harper, 5, helps her big sisters as much as she can; and they have all participated in the hospital’s annual community event, Walk & Play L.A.

“Harper is a Junior Ambassador in training,” Dr. Hall jokes. “Anything we do, she helps, but she has to get into kindergarten first!”

More than fundraising

“The other parents at school think it’s great that this is something their kids can get involved with—and it’s much more than fundraising for the hospital,” Dr. Hall says. “These kids are learning communication skills and how to interact with people about a cause they believe in.”

At first, her daughters were nervous and shy when people asked them about why they support the hospital, but they have since developed into articulate, thoughtful young leaders, she says.

“One person said, ‘Don’t tell me what your mom told you to say. Why do you think I should support this?’ They really started thinking about where the money goes, and now they can answer for themselves,” Dr. Hall says, noting that her kids’ fundraising dollars are directed to CHLA’s Maurice Marciano Family Foundation Emergency Department and Trauma Center—also known as “Mom’s work” and where two of her kids were treated as patients.

“Sydney has asthma, allergies and eczema, so she’s been there a handful of times with asthma attacks,” Dr. Hall says.

Husband and wife with dark skin tone smile as they pose with their three daughters at a restaurant table
Giving back is a family affair. From left to right: Harper, Maurice, Sydney, Dr. Hall and Morgan

A new perspective

Recently, Dr. Hall experienced the hospital in a new way. During a school break, Sydney’s eye began to swell, so Dr. Hall took her to CHLA, where she was diagnosed with an infection called orbital cellulitis. Because the infection had spread rapidly, Sydney was admitted for treatment.

In CHLA’s Emergency Department, Dr. Hall is used to being the voice of calm during stressful situations for patient families. With the tables turned during Sydney’s seven-day hospital stay, Dr. Hall relied on the guidance and expertise of her colleagues.

“I saw CHLA from a whole new perspective. The nurses and the Child Life team in both the Emergency Department and on the floor were phenomenal. They met Sydney where she was, and they were so in tune with her,” Dr. Hall says. “The playrooms were everything she needed. She had one-on-one time with mom and dad, and she got to play games and do crafts and activities, so she wasn’t bored. Therapy dogs visited her twice, and that just made her day and broke up the monotony of being in the hospital. The experience was amazing!”

Female doctor with dark skin tone and short dark hair smiles as she stands with her arms crossed outside Children's Hospital Emergency Department entrance
“I love working in a team environment where we are just trying to do right by our patients,” Dr. Hall says.

Being the parent of a patient also gave Dr. Hall a fresh outlook on how she connects with patient families in the Emergency Department. A 10-year CHLA veteran, Dr. Hall says that what she loves most about her job is that every day brings a new set of challenges—and learning opportunities.

“I love that I can interact with families and alleviate some fears, tell them what to do when they get home. I pride myself on having a running list of all the answers to the questions they may ask,” Dr. Hall says, laughing. “It’s a kind of game I play. I say, ‘Do you have any questions?’ and they say, ‘Well, you answered all the things I would ask.’ When people come in worried, but then are relieved when they leave—that brings me joy.”

So does knowing that her daughters are learning invaluable lessons about compassion and giving back as Junior Ambassadors— values they will carry and perhaps one day pass along to their own children.

“Maurice and I want to teach our girls to think of others and to have a heart to help others around them,” says Dr. Hall. “That’s what they are learning now— different ways to demonstrate kindness within their community. We couldn’t be prouder.”

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This article is featured in the Spring 2024 issue of Imagine magazine.