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For One Night, a Hospital Lobby Turned Into a Prom Dance Floor

Patients let loose in the second annual Duke Children's Hospital Prom

James Fowler and his cool light-up dance shoes at Duke Children's prom on April 14. All photos by Shawn Rocco

James Fowler and his cool light-up dance shoes at Duke Children's prom on April 14. All photos by Shawn Rocco

With "Cupid Shuffle" and "Cha Cha Slide" blasting over speakers, young patients danced alongside staff and providers last weekend as part of Duke Children's Hospital Prom.

The second-year event served as a celebration for adolescents and young adults being cared for at Duke. Sporting colorful dresses and suits, prom-goers snapped pictures and shared laughs in the hospital's lobby-turned-dance floor.

"The work we do at the hospital and programs we run outside of the hospital setting is meaningful and fabulous, but this is different in that the only goal is to celebrate these young adults and have fun," said Amanda Rozycki, a social worker with Duke Child & Family Mental Health who led the organization of the prom with other Duke University Hospital staff and providers. "It is amazing to see so many smiling faces on the dance floor."

The smiles came out when Duke senior Grayson Allen visited the prom. Here he poses with patient Josh Holdner.

About 25 Duke employees volunteered behind the scenes to create party favors and decorations, set tables, and serve food for around 200 patients and their family members. 

Tiarra Garner dances with nurse Arial Harris.

Dr. Richard Chung, an adolescent medicine specialist at Duke Children's Hospital, volunteered for the second-straight year to share in the occasion.

"It really encapsulates in a pretty beautiful way what we're trying to accomplish when we care for patients," Chung said. "It demonstrates that our goal is to be all-encompassing in terms of how we support and care for them and their families."

With a little help from his nurses, Courtney Barlow, left, and Julia Maria Mazur, James Fowler dances with Kate Shipman at the Duke Children's prom
Posing for a prom photo

Chung noted that the event is "just a lot of fun, too." For a few hours, the perception of a hospital stay can be transformed, he said.

"We always want to maintain focus on the whole of a person's experience here," he said. "The better we can do that, the better engaged we can be in their lives."

Isabel, a hospital patient, connects the conga line during the prom.
Dancers at the prom.