40 From Our 40: Rich Schreiner

Dr Richard Schreiner poses, smiling, at Riley Childrens HealthAs you enter the Simon Family Tower at Riley Children’s Health, you’ll be greeted by a life size statue of this man – Dr. Richard Schreiner, retired Chair of the Pediatrics Department and Physician-in-Chief.

Dr. Schreiner’s accomplishments are many and include growing the size of the department and significantly increasing funding for research and training residents. “He devoted a significant portion of his efforts as chair to the development of better health care delivery systems and state-of-the-art pediatric educational programs for medical students, residents and practitioners to meet the ever-changing technology and modes of treatment for all children.”*

When Dr. Schreiner started his career in medicine in St. Louis in the late 1960’s hospital care was very different than we know it today. At the time, visitation for parents in most children’s hospitals was for two hours a day but Riley had already changed that, allowing 24-hour visitation for parents. The Riley NICU was very crowded, with 1/10 the total amount of space it is today. Parents were sleeping in chairs in a small waiting room. The team of doctors and nurses at Riley felt it was essential that parents be part of their child’s care plan. Dr. Schreiner credits his predecessor in the department with leading the charge at Riley for a move toward family-centered care. The team strongly believed that the child would do better and would definitely be better cared for when they went home, if parents could be part of care at the hospital.

Dr Richard Schreiner poses, smiling, at Riley Childrens Health

Dr. Richard Schreiner’s likeness in bronze greets patients as they enter Riley.

Dr. Schreiner was working at Riley and taking care of a lot of sick newborns when our fearless founders were building their case and garnering support for the first Ronald McDonald House in Indiana. When he heard about what the Ronald McDonald House could provide for families he called it “a Godsend.”

Parents were coming from all over Indiana, east central Illinois, and west central Ohio. Many families were coming from small towns and suddenly finding themselves alone and frightened in the big city without a support network of friends and family, a place to stay, or money for gas and food. There was no doubt in his mind that a Ronald McDonald House was needed to provide critical support for parents as Riley continued to pioneer the concept of family-centered care.

“All of a sudden, parents had a wonderful place to go, to rest comfortably and eat good food, and meet other people. It was like night and day. It was just wonderful for parents,” recalls Dr. Schreiner after the House opened. He continues to tout the impact the House has had on families by emphasizing, “They have a place to stay! And, that place allows parents to feel connected. Human interaction is essential. Parents can find camaraderie, friendship, and support from other parents and volunteers.”

In fact, the support the House receives from our countless dedicated volunteers is his favorite RMH memory. “The concept of volunteerism is wonderful; parents develop relationships with volunteers, and they have someone to talk with. That is so important. They create a safe supportive space. Parents have enough to worry about with their sick child. Volunteers make it a safe home away from home and take away a lot of that worry.” He also marvels at the number of volunteers that have provided and served countless meals to families over the years.

A committed hospital partner is one-third of the Ronald McDonald House recipe for success. Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana is proud to have been a part of supporting Riley Children’s Health’s commitment and vision to developing a family-centered care approach to healing by doing what Ronald McDonald Houses do best- provide a home for families when they need us most.

*Source: Schreiner Chairmanship | Pediatrics | IU School of Medicine

By Stacy Clark

Heart & Hearth Winter 2022