From Role Play To Real Life – When A Child’s Life Is At Stake

An infant lays lifeless on an exam table inside a hospital emergency room. The mother tells the doctor that the baby had been fighting flu-like symptoms and is now struggling to breathe.

In another room, a 6-year-old drowning victim goes into cardiac arrest, the emergency room filled with a doctor and nurses scrambling to bring the child to life.

The emergency situations took place at Hancock Regional Hospital and the patients were mannequins, but the responders were real emergency room physicians and nurses. They were working alongside their peers from LifeLine and Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. The exercise was part of The Pediatric Community Outreach Mobile Education (PCOME) training program.

The goal of the program is to provide onsite training and expertise to community hospital healthcare providers in Indiana for the initial stabilization and management of pediatric patients. The program focuses on pediatric care in commonly seen pediatric illnesses and low volume high acuity illness. The training is geared toward multidisciplinary teams in their own environment, using mannequins to refine and refresh their skills in a realistic way without risk to the patients.

Why is the training important? Nearly 83% of children are seen at non-children’s hospitals. About 70 percent of emergency rooms see 15 children a day. Almost a third of Indiana hospitals are located in rural or remote areas.

PCOME team members include nurses Michele Kirby, Erin Montgomery respiratory, therapist Kellie Leeper, and physicians Riad Lutfi, Samar Abu-Sultaneah, and Kamal Abulebda – all specializing in pediatric critical care. Upcoming training sites include Terre Haute Regional Hospital, IU Health West, Evansville Deaconess Hospital and Johnson Memorial Hospital.

“As much as we try to mimic reality, we can’t get it perfect, but we tell them to take it seriously, because we want them to be prepared,” said Dr. Lutfi. During the training, mannequins display signs of distress from plummeted oxygen levels, to labored breathing. Staff members go through the emergency paces as if they were working on a real patient – ordering chest x-rays, administering CPR, and stabilizing the child for transport.

Taryn Papandria, who has worked as an ER doctor at Hancock Regional Hospital for 12 years said even though she knows she can call for an emergency transport to Riley Hospital, she also knows that minutes matter.

“We don’t see a lot of very sick children here, so having this refresher is important. If you don’t use it, you lose it. No matter how confident we are, it’s good to have outside resources come in to teach us.” 

After each exercise, the PCOME team members ask the ER physicians and nurses to evaluate the care and outcome of the patient.

“Half the job with pediatric patients is determining how sick they are,” said Lufti. “It’s all about you. You are saving the kids’ lives.”

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email at
 T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.

Year-round help for runaway resolutions

~~A new year offers a fresh start and an opportunity to set goals for a better life. Improving health and well-being is a common goal for many people this time of year, but as January turns to February and winter to spring, some people find it difficult to make positive lifestyle changes a lasting part of their daily routine. For most people, however, it’s possible to make incremental changes that pay off in the long run. Here are some strategies to consider:

Ignore the calendar and persevere. While January is a popular time for resolution-making, efforts to improve health can begin at any time year-round. Don’t be discouraged by false starts or setbacks. Commit to stay the course, evaluate your past experience and adjust your plan accordingly to improve your chance for success. When it comes to health and wellness, people tend to make more progress when they set small, realistic goals and work their way up from there.

Seek advice and support. If you’re attempting to improve your diet or begin an exercise routine, take advantage of resources available for advice and support. Reliable nutrition information is available online at, a website developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Meeting with your primary care doctor is also a great place to start. He or she can recommend customized resources and connect you with other professionals, such as dietitians and personal trainers to help you develop an individualized plan.

Resist fads; opt for change that’s sustainable. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is—especially when it comes to fad diets or “get fit quick” exercise programs. The best way to improve overall health is to eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables and exercise regularly. Again, your primary care provider is a good resource if your goals include losing a significant amount of weight or starting an exercise program after a period of inactivity or an injury.

Make health goals a priority and uncover your motivation. Finding time for exercise and healthy eating can be difficult when life is busy. As with any other appointment, block time on your calendar for exercise, healthy meal planning and trips to the grocery store or farmers market. Most importantly, think about why you want to get healthy and use that motivation to fuel your commitment and drive progress.

Cancer screenings, navigating your options and the freedom to choose.

Cancer screening recommendations change over time because of evolving medical developments. Let’s start with one of the more confusing screening recommendations, Pap tests.

Pap tests. In the past, it was recommended that all women age 21 and over get a Pap annually. Now it’s every three or five years. Why the change?

Science shows that cervical cancer is directly related to human papillomavirus (HPV) spread through sexual contact. However, an HPV infection could clear in a few months and not result in cancer, or an infection may not show signs of cancer for several years. Overtreatment — causing pain, expense, and in some cases infertility — can be a huge burden on women who otherwise may not have ever presented with cancer.

Now we recommend a Pap test every three years for women between the ages of 21 and 30. At age 30, we do an HPV test along with the Pap. If those results show you do not have the HPV virus, the likelihood of developing cervical cancer is extremely rare, and you may be cleared to go five years without a Pap.

Mammograms and colonoscopies. While one is for women aged 40-plus and the other is for all adults aged 50 and over, they both have a lot in common. Some patients tell me they’re afraid of the discomfort, and some tell me they just don’t want to know the results. But the facts are that these two screenings can be life saving by finding cancers in the earliest stages while still treatable. And these screenings are really not all that invasive. Mammography has been refined over the years to where it’s not as uncomfortable as you might imagine; colonoscopies are performed under sedation.

Beyond the test results.

Keep in mind that all screening recommendations are going to be based on your age, personal health, and family health history. But what you choose to do in response to a result that’s positive for cancer should involve an in-depth discussion with your physician(s) that takes your beliefs, current health status, and expected outcomes into consideration. Are you able to withstand treatment physically, emotionally, and financially, or would it be better to let nature take its course?

For instance, there is no reason why an otherwise vibrant and healthy 70-year-old shouldn’t undergo treatment for colon cancer. On the other hand, a younger patient who suffers from severe heart disease or kidney failure may not be able to — or want to — endure surgery, chemo, and radiation for breast cancer. Does she want to spend her last year or two dealing with the additional cancer therapy?

Which brings me back to the point of screenings. When physicians and patients have open and truthful dialogue, better assessments can be made as to whether or not to have the cancer screenings at all. There’s no one-size-fits-all. Conversations should not only take guidelines and research into consideration, but also patient values and circumstances.

The bottom line: be informed. Get regular checkups. Talk with your physician. And know you still have the freedom to choose.

Where There Is Food There Is Comfort

On a recent weekday Gregory Fleming loaded a cart and headed to a patient’s room to deliver a warm meal. It was nothing out of the ordinary but somehow Fleming made the job extraordinary.

“I love meeting people from all walks of life. A lot of us feel like we have problems but we can’t understand what problems are until we meet patients, their families and loved ones.  I see how sickness effects everyone,” said Fleming. When he’s not delivering meals, he’s cooking or working the line in the kitchen at IU Health University Hospital.  

Making connections is important to him. He often sees nurses, doctors and family members come through the cafeteria line after he has delivered a meal to their patient’s bedside.

“He is one of the kindest people I know. He always greets me with a hug. I was brand new a year and half ago and I saw him interacting with a family. I didn’t know who he was but he was so kind, it made me excited to be part of the team,” said Tamra Holaday, a departmental secretary at IU Health University Hospital.

“Greg is always positive and has a great sense of humor. He’s always telling jokes or singing. He just brightens your day,” said Clinical Nurse Amy Leach.

A native of Mississippi, Fleming moved to Indianapolis in 2008, shortly after his mother’s death.

“She was the backbone of our family and after we lost her, I just needed a change,” said Fleming, who is one of eight children. He and his wife Tajuana looked for places to raise their own family, including six children between the ages of 13 and 25, and they settled on Indianapolis.

“Everyone thought I was crazy for just packing up and moving, but it had to be a God thing because when I first got here, I worked mainly at Simon Cancer Center. My dad is fighting prostate cancer and I’ve been able to relate more to him because of the patients I’ve met,” said Fleming.

“Greg makes a point to know patients by their first names and learn all their food preferences. He is a dear man with a beautiful kind heart,” said Jane Wood a nurse in the medical progressive care unit.

When a patient doesn’t feel like eating, Fleming still makes sure they have a tray. He’s learned some of the favorite meals that bring them the comforts of home.

“They like the pot roast and mashed potatoes,” he says. And staff members and families?

“They look forward to cheesy potatoes in the morning and the taco bar on Tuesdays.”

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email at
 T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.

Weight Loss – New Lease On Life

A January birthday, a new copper blonde hair tint, fresh makeup, and fashionable clothes are just a fraction of Tiara Jenkins’ transformation. On December 18, she underwent surgery as part of her weight loss journey.

Under the care of IU Health physician Ambar Banerjee, Jenkins was a candidate for the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. The procedure basically shrinks the stomach so Jenkins will fill full more quickly than when her stomach was its original size.

“Tiara has been extremely motivated and compliant with our recommendations over the past several months. This was evident from the weight loss she achieved prior to surgery,” said Dr. Banerjee. “She still remains well above average in terms of weight loss at one month after surgery. She understands that lifestyle modification is most important in her weight loss journey and surgery is a tool to help achieve her goal. She feels great and has much improved energy. She is excited that she has lost about 70lbs since joining our program and almost 100 lbs. since she decided to take charge and improve her health. I expect her to do incredibly well.”

Jenkins received the news of her progress at a recent follow-up visit with Dr. Banerjee.

“Honestly, it’s crazy how great I feel. I have so much energy that it’s hard to sleep,” said Jenkins, who began her journey a year ago. The first step was contacting the IU Health Bariatric & Medical Weight Loss Clinic for guidance. She weighed 445 pounds at the time and had tried a series of diets and weight loss programs with limited success.

The IU Health Medical Weight Loss Program specializes in treating the whole person. Before clients can have surgery, they spend about six months in nutritional, psychological and exercise counseling. Every patient must complete specific steps to prepare for surgery.

Jenkins learned early on in the process that the transformation would involve a commitment. Part of that was changing how she viewed her eating habits and self-care. She took up hobbies – working puzzles and taking photos – and began exercising. She also worked to reach a pre-surgery weight goal, necessary to prepare her body for the procedure.

“Having surgery before Christmas was really the best because I didn’t have any of the temptations going through the holidays,” said Jenkins, a graduate of Avon High School. “People around me would be eating all the cookies and sweets and I didn’t even want them.” She’s also noticed a difference in other senses. “The smell of bacon isn’t the same. I just don’t crave the same things.”

Surgery lasted about two hours and she spent one night the hospital. She will continue with check ups through the first year following her surgery.

In just a month, she has eased back into her workout routine, and is making plans for a few celebrations.

“I don’t remember going to King’s Island since I was five. I got to a point I couldn’t fit on the rides. So I’m hoping to take my little brother for his senior trip.”

And there’s another goal too – “I’d love to take a cross-country road trip and just see things I’ve never seen.”

To prepare for that goal she has something else that’s new – a shiny red new Nissan Rogue.

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health. 
Reach Banes via email at T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.

Transplant Brings Life Of Joy

She’s heard it often. Her name is who she is.

From members of the hospital guest relations staff to the transplant nurses – they all know Joy Araujo for her smile and positive attitude. She shows up for check ups and blood work with the same enthusiasm as walking onto the stage for a public performance.

In short, Joy Araujo, 29, lives life in what she calls the “awesome lane.”

Few people would know that it hasn’t always been easy.

At age 10, Araujo was diagnosed with C1q Nephropathy, one of many diseases causing Nephrotic Syndrome, a kidney disease that leads to large amounts of protein lost in the urine. At age 17 she received a transplant. But at age 25 her body rejected the kidney and she started on 11 hours of peritoneal dialysis daily.

This past July Araujo, who is under the care of IU Health Doctors William C. Goggins and Tim Tabor, received a new kidney from a deceased donor.

“She won the lottery. Not only is this is life-prolonging procedure; it makes her life a lot easier. She doesn’t have to do dialysis anymore,” said nephrologist Dr. Tim Taber, following her surgery.

In the months since her transplant Araujo, who has competed in pageants around the country, has focused on working out, staying healthy, and enjoying time with friends and family. She is also the founder of the Donor Appreciation Network, a non-profit organization that recognizes the efforts of living kidney donors.

“Since transplant, life has been glorious beyond my expectations. I’ve been able to work out stronger, travel more, meet new people and work harder towards my goals,” said Araujo. “I feel excellent. Friends keep commenting on how healthy I look but I genuinely feel healthy too. I feel incredibly blessed.”

– T.J. Banes 

OB to Oncology: Her Heart Lights The Way

Kristine Brannock powers through each workday with a philosophy she calls “The Alice Trillin Effect.” Some time ago, Brannock read a column by Calvin Trillin where the New York Writers Hall of Fame inductee told about a dinner date with his wife Alice. The couple left an extra tip at the end of their date because Alice felt their waiter wasn’t having a good day. Alice Trillin, the mother of two daughters, died of complications from breast cancer in 2001.

Brannock figures if anyone would know about having a bad day it would be someone with cancer.

“It’s so remarkable to me that Alice Trillin recognized that maybe the waiter wasn’t doing a very good job because he had other things going on in his life that were distracting him – that were causing him great heartache or stress,” said Brannock, 53.  “This story taught me to slow down, to consider other angles, to think about what might be happening in the other people’s lives that caused them to act in a way I didn’t understand or approve of or like. This is the force that drives my care of patients.”

Brannock was in her mid 40s, divorced and raising three children when she decided to return to school for her nursing degree.

“I was working part time and reality set in. I needed to work full time and at my age I wanted to do something I love and could do forever. Nursing was it,” said Brannock. “It took a lot of time management. I relied on family and friends for help and it required some sacrifices. My friends will tell you I wasn’t that much fun because I studied all the time. There was a lot of guilt – if I was studying I wasn’t spending time with the kids and if I was spending time with the kids I wasn’t studying. It felt like a siege sometimes. People would say, ‘how do you do it?’ And I’d say, ‘I don’t know how I do it; I just do.’”

She passed her boards in 2015 and started work at Methodist Hospital in the OB unit. It was an early introduction to the Alice Trillin Effect. Brannock said she left her problems at the door because there were others who were having a bad day and she was there to help make it better.

“First off, it’s so humbling to work with the patient population I worked with at the maternity center,” said Brannock. “Those women didn’t have the best lives and they needed a soft place to land and a female role model. They were broken and I just wanted to give them a little extra love. . I just felt so lucky that I got to take care of them. I wanted them to know I believed in them.”

She pauses often to gather her thoughts and to dab at tears as she begins to tell about the patients who will forever be in her heart. She remembers one in particular – a young woman who was delivering her fourth child. She didn’t have custody of her other three children, and wouldn’t have custody of the fourth. She was battling an addiction.

“I will never forget this little girl as long as I live,” said Brannock. “She didn’t have any hope left. When she was discharged she got dressed in the filthy clothes she wore in and I put her in a cab that was dropping her off on the corner of the nearest drugstore where she needed to pick up her meds.  She was homeless and had literally been sleeping on the ground. She came in a mom and left alone.”  

As Brannock’s two oldest children entered college, leaving the youngest at home, she needed to be home evenings and weekends so she moved to an outpatient setting. She serves as a clinical nurse coordinator for the oncology/hematology and women’s clinics at Simon Cancer Center. 

“As a woman I’m always looking at ways to better myself – to learn and grow,” said Brannock. “And as a mother I want my kids to see that we can reinvent ourselves. I didn’t know what I wanted to do until I was in my mid 40s but I knew I wanted to do something that would be fulfilling.”

Oncology wasn’t something new to her. Her mom is a six-year lung cancer survivor.

“Oddly, walking into Simon Cancer Center felt like coming home. I use the experience with my mom to relate to my patients. I think about all those things – even the little things like how long a patient is sitting in the waiting room, or the follow up phone calls – they are so important,” said Brannock.  “This diagnosis is overwhelming. They don’t have a nice day. They’re not even having a good moment, so it makes it easy to remember how fortunate I am.”

For Brannock, every patient is like her first patient; her only patient.

“I see miracles happen here every day, and I see hope here every day. But I also see fear and sadness and death here. It is not lost on me that the absolute gift I’ve been given is to know these patients. I have had the privilege to give patients the best news – their numbers are good, they’re in remission, they don’t need chemo. And I’ve also had the privilege to be with these patients when they are getting the worst news – there’s nothing more we can do for them. I’ve been on the other side with my mom and it is incredibly humbling to be sitting on this side. Caring for these patients is an honor and one that I don’t take lightly. It’s precious.”

She again dabs at her eyes as she talks about encouraging other nurses to follow their dreams.

“I always tell my kids to do what you love. You may not figure it out until you are in your 40s, but follow those dreams. Wearing a red badge that says ‘RN’ is not something I take lightly,” said Brannock. “Outside of having my kids, it’s the single best thing I’ve ever done in my life.”  

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email at
 T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.

Sex In The City, Ninja Turtles, The Beatles, And Heart Scans

My mother was in line at Walmart when she collapsed and was rushed to a nearby ER.  It was years ago and she survived, but the diagnosis is a No. 1 killer among US men and women: Heart attack.

To make it clearer: Think of your favorite group of four – the iconic foursome in “Sex in the City” – Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda; or the Teenage Ninja Turtles – Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo; or the universally beloved British Fab Four – John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

Now think of one of those four missing from the group. That’s heart disease. It kills one in four people every year.

So, here’s the good news: You don’t have to be a Ninja Turtle to fight the killer. Prevention is part of the defense.

In my family I not only have a history of heart disease but also diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol. So I was an ideal candidate for a heart scan. And yes, I had the same reservations that many others have: Time, money, and results.

First about the time – I was concerned how much of my day would be taken up by the scan. Truth: I was in and out of the radiology room in 20 minutes.

Next, about money – I thought it would cost more than actually advertised. Truth: This is an out-of-pocket expense, less than $50.

Lastly, about the results – I worried that I would wait weeks to learn the test results. Truth: The technician who administered the scan met me in the waiting room and gave me a copy of my results. A copy was also sent to my primary care physician and was made available on my IU Health portal. A follow-up copy was mailed to my home within 48 hours (after it was reviewed by a radiologist).

So here’s what you need to know to be proactive with your heart health: Persons between the ages of 40 and 79 years with one of the following risk factors are eligible for a heart scan without a doctor’s recommendation: Family history of heart disease, stroke, and/or other vascular disease; smoking, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure.

Here’s how it’s administered: You lie down on a flat surface (fully clothed), rest your arms above your head, and wait as the scan is completed. Four EKG stickers are attached to your left and right sides. You are asked to hold your breath for three sets of pictures. The first two times you hold your breath two to three seconds, the third time you hold your breath about five to seven seconds. The pictures are timed to your heart rate so that the technician can get the clearest scans possible.

My technician, Hannah Jackson has been working at IU Health Saxony for six years. She carefully explained two things to me: 1) She is looking for calcium build up in my arteries. 2) A score of zero does not indicate defeat. It’s actually a perfect score for a heart scan.

Results mean different things to different ages. For instance, 1-100 can mean mild plaque in the arteries and the patient may want to think about making some lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. A score of 101-399 indicates a moderate build up of plaque and a score of 400 and over can cause concern for a potential heart attack.

Here’s the good news: For the first time in my adult life, I scored a zero – a perfect score. But more importantly, that short investment of time gave me a peace of mind.

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email at
 T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.

Find Out More, Schedule Your Heart Scan Today –  Anyone who is overweight, smokes or has high blood pressure could be at risk for heart disease. Does that sound like you? Find out with a $49 heart scan from the leading heart and vascular experts in Indiana. It’s convenient, simple and it might save your life.

Brain Injury Survivor Eli Cornwell: ‘I Am Still Here On This Earth For A Reason’

Eli Cornwell has demons. “Don’t we all?” he asks. He fights them every single day.

And so the words pour out. His honesty endearing. The words of an addict, now sober, but hitting bumps every day of his life.

Cornwell almost died in October of 2016, after a night of partying hard. He was hanging out of a pickup truck going 40 miles an hour in the wee hours of the morning. He fell out and slammed onto the road, shattering his skull.

He has had five brain surgeries since then. He has short-term memory loss. He endured months and months of rehab.

And yet, he went back. Back to the alcohol.

“I’m not going to lie, I’ve made mistakes,” says Cornwell, who lives in Spencer, Ind. “So, there is bad news to tell. I went back to alcohol, which is what hurt me in the first place.”

He is now on probation. But, he is searching for the light – the light in his own story. And there is something raw and inspiring about that.

“I’m supposed to do something,” says Cornwell, 25, who is now sober. “I wouldn’t still be here if not. I am still here on this earth for a reason.”


It is a miracle that Cornwell is still here. When the accident happened, his mom Lori Lawyer got that horrific news every mom fears.  

An accident. Brain injury. Lawyer was sure she would be planning her son’s funeral.  

No one thought Cornwell was going to make it. After a successful emergency surgery by Nicholas Barbaro, M.D., at IU Health Methodist Hospital, things took a turn for the worse.

“His brain showed massive swelling with intracranial pressure going up very high,” says Dr. Barbaro, neurosurgeon and chair of IU Health’s department of neurosurgery. “We thought he was going to die.”

Cornwell fought through and went home. He had his fifth and final brain surgery in July. He finished months of rehab.

He says he has no side effects from the injury except for the short-term memory loss. 

“It’s like it never happened, really,” he says. “I can do something with my life.”

He has started fresh – again – and has a serious girlfriend, Corrine, who he says is good for him.

“She’ll keep me on the right path,” he says. “I never knew it could be this way.”

The job search is tough, so Cornwell stays busy helping family split wood. He wants to go to college to be a forestry ranger.

He would love to come back to Methodist on a regular basis and talk to people who’ve suffered traumatic brain injury.  

He already speaks to church groups about his journey. And, he says, has more scripture memorized than ever.

“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him,” Cornwell recites from Jeremiah. “They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”  


On the 1-year anniversary of his accident in October, Cornwell suffered.

“Oh my goodness, it was horrible,” he says. “I went crazy. I blocked myself off from everybody. I stayed in a closed room the whole day. It still gets me. My past still gets me.” 

But he won’t dwell on that past. He knows he can’t.

He has started his own business making wooden crosses out of red cedar, “red for Jesus’s blood,” Cornwell says.

“This is the year I buy a house and get something started,” he says. “I plan on doing good things in my life. We have to believe in ourselves before we can do anything about it.”

Read more on Eli Cornwell’s story here.

— By Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.

   Reach Benbow via email or on Twitter @danabenbow.

Meet The Music Man

Rebecca Knight was missing her Carroll County home. She had spent nearly two weeks an hour from her family and friends. Coughing and wheezing – a symptom of her cystic fibrosis – was the reason she was admitted to IU Health University Hospital.

“The most frustrating thing is not being able to walk,” said Knight, 28, a patient of IU Health pulmonologist Dr. Cynthia Brown.

Those words became lyrics for Adam Perry’s impromptu song:

“I can’t walk. It makes me sad. I want to walk down the hallway right out of here and return to Flora,” he sang. As he sang, Perry strummed the guitar and Knight joined in keeping rhythm on a bongo drum, near her bedside. And as she tapped the drum, she smiled.

“The music just helps relieve the stress and makes me happy,” said Knight, whose favorite artists are Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn.

For Perry, the jam session was part of his new gig at IU Health Cancer Resource Center as a music therapist. Working three days a week, Perry brings music to the patient’s bedside as part of a technique to facilitate healing by nurturing the patients’ mind, body and spirit. Music is one of the Cancer Resource Center’s CompleteLife creative therapies that also include, yoga, massage, and art.

“Taking music to the individual rooms helps normalize their hospital stay and brings them a few of the comforts from home,” said Perry.

 A native of Long Island, N.Y., Perry completed his undergraduate degree at Ithaca College and his masters in music therapy from Temple University. Before joining the CompleteLife staff Perry completed an internship at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Perry began pursuing music at the age of eight with piano. Twenty years later he continues with piano. In high school he played xylophone with the marching band, and piano with the jazz band and high school musical. He also accompanied the student choir.  He later took up voice lessons in college.

Perry said the first time he learned about music therapy was when US Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot during an assassination attempt in Arizona in 2011.

“I remember hearing a lot about how music therapy played a big role in her treatment and recovery,” said Perry. “When I learned more about it, I knew music therapy was a good fit for me.” After completing his internships, he knew he wanted to work in a hospital setting.

“Music is a universal language that anyone can grasp and can participate in a variety of ways – whether it’s listening or performing. In just a few minutes you can make meaningful connections and have fun doing it,” said Perry. “I like having a touch down space that I share with other therapists and since it’s located in the Cancer Resource Center, it’s also a public space to connect with people.”

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email at
 T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.