Fletcher Allen, a Vermont university hospital and medical center, serves all of
Vermont and the northern New York region. Located in Burlington, Fletcher Allen is a regional, academic healthcare center and teaching hospital in alliance with the University of Vermont.
Courtney Billings--Cystic Fibrosis
Fifteen-year-old Courtney Billings was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a baby. You’d never guess by her energy and ever-present smile that this young girl’s entire life has been defined by doctor’s appointments, hospital visits and medications.
"Courtney’s Medicine Shoppe," a wall of pills and inhalers tucked away in the family’s kitchen in their Colchester home, is a constant reminder of the routines that have become a way of life for Courtney and her family.
Courtney has formed strong and lasting relationships with her providers at Fletcher Allen. She is devoted to pediatric pulmonologist Tom Lahiri, M.D., who has cared for her for many years. "She likes the fact that he is always honest and direct with her," says Marianne, Courtney’s mother. "He makes every effort to be flexible, to give her a sense of freedom within the confines of her condition."
Another friend is Sara Abbott, R.N. "They just click," says Marianne. "It’s a great source of comfort for Courtney to have such caring people who she feels comfortable with."
And of course there’s the Vermont Children’s Hospital Child Life staff, especially Jennifer Dawson and Kathy O’Reilly, who have helped Courtney find comforting and fun routines in her many hospital stays.
In August of 2008, Dr. Lahiri told Courtney that she had been selected as the 2009 Children’s Miracle Network Champion. Since then, she has had a series of adventures with other CMN Champions from across the country, including visiting the White House and meeting President Obama.
Courtney is also active in the annual Cystic Fibrosis Walk, single-handedly raising over $1,500 in support of research to find a cure.
Courtney continues to accept the challenges of her illness with grace and determination, finding joy in the ordinary experiences that so many of us take for granted.
And that is what makes her extraordinary.