Shriners Hospitals for Children, POPS, Elina’s Story

Local News

Erie is so fortunate to be the home of a Shriners Hospital for Children, which has provided orthopedic care for kids, regardless of their families’ ability to pay, for more than 90 years in our community.

14-year-old Elina Villemure is being fitted for new legs. Born without them, she has one above and one below the knee prosthesis, but that doesn’t hold her back one bit.

“I do a lot of stuff. I play football with my brothers, I ride bikes, I am going to do a 100-mile bike ride.”

Elina and her mom, Yvonne, have been coming to Shriners since 2010, traveling from Michigan for all her appointments.

Yvonne tells us, “this hospital has changed and grown in so many ways. We’ve done everything from in house physical therapy to having surgeries here and in Philadelphia, and our standard clinical appointments that we have here”.

Now, Shriners POPS is making things even more convenient. POPS, standing for Pediatric Orthotics and Prosthetic Services opened in 2016, now Shriners can fit, adjust and supply patients with those services in house.

Alex Betancourt, Manager at POPS Shriners, Erie, tells us, “it’s a one-stop shop; you can come here like Elina does for quite a long time because she travels six hours; she is usually here for five hours, but she gets to see three, four, five of her specialists.”

Elina says, “they come back and get all our information and do all the adjustments I need until I am happy and satisfied. They don’t let me leave until I have a smile on my face and I am good”.

For mom, that one-stop shop service means more control over her daughter’s care.

“I am not making follow up appointments in different areas. We have everything from child specialists to physical therapy, the nurse, case-workers, and the doctor and then we all make a plan together… To a parent, that is everything; you want to take them to the best and I truly feel that this is the best”.

For Elina, who doesn’t take it easy on her legs, thanks to rock climbing, horseback riding, and other 14-year-old activities, it means the care she needs from a place that feels like home.

And, Elina says it doesn’t hurt that they are “…so kind and amazing, they are like family here.”

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