"My life goal is to create more resources for people with autism,” said Gia Bell.
Bell, who is making a difference in the lives of so many, is
well on her way to accomplishing that goal. She has spent nearly fourteen years
making an impact at Cleveland Clinic Akron General. She is the Health Unit
Coordinator at Akron General and, most recently, served as the project leader
for Akron General’s designation as an “autism-friendly” adult hospital.
According to the Autism Society of Greater Akron, “Cleveland
Clinic Akron General is the first hospital in Akron, and among the first adult
hospitals in the nation, to be designated an ‘Autism Friendly Hospital.’”
Working closely with the Autism Society of Greater Akron,
Bell started working on the project with her colleagues in August of 2017. They
developed the resources and support to accommodate patients with autism who are
being treated at the hospital.
They coordinated and organized more than 650 caregivers to
be trained at the hospital. Bell worked with departments at the hospital from
security and registration all the way up to the leadership and executive
teams. “Awareness is a big part of what
we’ve done,” said Bell. “Awareness improves understanding and willingness to
accommodate our patients.”
Today, the staff of Cleveland Clinic Akron General has been
trained with the ability to identify a person with autism spectrum disorder
based on their characteristics. In addition, the caregivers have been trained
in adapting their approach, making accommodations, and utilizing resources and
support to improve the patient’s experience and medical outcome.
Bell’s passion to generate awareness comes from her son,
Graysen, who is a second-grade student at JB Akron. When she enrolled her son
at Julie Billiart Schools, Bell believed the smaller class sizes and
Intervention Specialists would be able to assist him best with his education.
“He has had a lot of progress,” said Bell. Because of Julie
Billiart Schools, Graysen has been able to develop his speech and communicate
more effectively. “He’s developed the confidence to have friendships and to
interact socially not only in school, but in other environments.”
Most importantly, Graysen has been able to do things that
people once told Bell he would never be able to do in his life. “He has
surpassed all of these things,” she said. Bell will continue to work to create
more resources, support, and opportunities for people with autism spectrum
disorder. Additionally, she will work to increase awareness so that people have
more empathy and understanding in the world of autism spectrum disorder.