What happens when a three-year-old stem-cell transplant patient is ready to be discharged, but only if they can safely and reliably swallow pills so they can take their meds at home? Riley knew this child loved competitive games, so she turned pill-swallowing into a fun game. The child quickly mastered the skill and was able to be discharged. The child’s mother was relieved because the game could be used at home as well, easing the process for the whole family. 

Riley has a huge impact on the lives of her patients. She centers each patient and their family in everything she does. One example was when she was caring for a patient who was declining with progressive disease. The patient’s physician was a friend and former colleague, and it was hard for him to accept that the end of life was approaching; he wanted to continue treatment for his old friend. Riley spoke to the family, and it was clear that the family wanted to transition to hospice. With Riley’s help, there was a family meeting and everyone agreed that the goal had changed to comfort, and the patient was discharged to home hospice. 

Even outside direct clinical care, Riley makes a difference in patient’s lives. She partners with The Let It Be Foundation to have care packages delivered for the pediatric oncology unit, and helps organize blanket deliveries provided by Addi’s Blankets of Love for patients. For the Pediatric Halloween Parade, Riley asked her family to donate to their booth and her father-in-law built a giant, interactive Barbie box. Riley also contacted Mattel and the company donated over 200 Barbies and 200 Hot Wheels for the patients and their siblings. Her commitment to her patients is holistic and encompasses everything from redesigning safety procedures, mentoring new nurses, and making sure no holiday goes uncelebrated.