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Frozen Treats Cart a Tribute to Wife, Nurse

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Dr. Robert Lemanske and the frozen treat cart

MADISON – The frozen treats cart that serves sweet treats to patients at American Family Children's Hospital during Wednesday night movies memorializes a woman who never let a birthday pass unacknowledged.

Frances Malloy began her nursing career in the old Children's Hospital, where she eventually served as head nurse of the adolescent unit. Her husband, pediatric allergy, asthma and immunology physician Robert Lemanske, MD, says Frances "was an incredible advocate for children and had a real love for all patients, especially children with cystic fibrosis."

Dr. Robert Lemanske and patient in front of frozen treats cart

Dr. Lemanske and patient

In her work on the adolescent unit Frances soon became known for a specific ritual through which she expressed her compassion.

"She was famous for remembering everyone's birthdays and would celebrate them by bringing in desserts," Dr. Lemanske says. "She made this double chocolate cake and would serve it with ice cream. She was a big lover of ice cream."
 
Frances died in 2003, and Dr. Lemanske worked with Kris Thompson, a director of development at American Family Children's Hospital, to create a tribute that would benefit patients in a way befitting Frances' devotion and personality.

The popularity of one of Dr. Lemanske's clinical touches guided their decision. After seeing pediatric patients in the allergy unit, Dr. Lemanske hands the children "prescriptions" he urges them to quickly fill.

"(The prescriptions) say, 'One ice cream cone or piece of fresh fruit, to be eaten with a smile.' The kids go crazy over that," he says.

Given Frances' affection for ice cream, the idea for the frozen treats cart, which serves University of Wisconsin-approved Babcock ice cream as well as frozen treats like popsicles, seemed appropriate.

"Both of their lives have touched children in so many ways," Thompson says. "What better way could he honor Frances than provide a frozen treats cart for the Children's Hospital?"

The cart made its debut July 2, with Dr. Lemanske on hand to serve the first scoop. Thompson says that many of the kids were apprehensive until one brave soul marched to the front of the line.

"There was one child who walked right up there and said, 'I have no problem asking for the first scoop,'" Thompson says. "To me, the frozen treats cart is going to be one of those events patients and families are going to look forward to."

"It was really fun," Dr. Lemanske says of that first Wednesday. "They loved it."

The cart will be making the rounds every Wednesday evening at 6:30pm, and there are plans to extend its service to Sundays. And, Thompson says, it helps patients get through what can be a difficult time.

"That extra touch of love and care means the world to the families," she says. "This is one very special example of how generous hearts really makes a difference."

Date Published: 07/17/2008


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