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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What Brenner Children's Hospital Did for Us

By Rachel H and Guest Blogger Deborah Martin

When the time comes that your child may need to visit the Emergency Room or the Hospital, many parents don’t realize that having a child treated by a pediatrician can make all the difference in the world. The staff at Brenner Children's Hospital in Winston-Salem has training in pediatrics AND their specialty area. One of our previous Smarty Moms realized this very quickly when she had to take her son, Bennett, to the Emergency Department this past year. We asked Deborah to write about her experience at the hospital in order to let our readers see the quality care our sponsor, Brenner Children's Hospital, provides to children. When I showed Deborah's story to our contact at Brenner, the first thing she said was, "Thank you for writing this and for helping us, help sick children. Parents need all the information they can gather to make the best decisions when their children are ill. Often times those decisions are made in the middle of the night and in an emergency. Letting parents know about their choices before the emergency hits, helps."

Thank you, Deborah, for sharing your story ...

A hospital is the LAST place you want to be with your child ... ever. However, God forbid, a tragedy strike, or your child become very ill, make your way to Brenner Children's Hospital, which is nestled inside the walls of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. From the beginning you will find that pediatrics has their very own emergency room. Which, I will say at 2:00 am when your nine week old son is not feeling or looking well, you want to get in and be in front of a pediatrician as soon as possible.

And that was what happened to us, I did not even sit down in the triage room, before we were escorted back to the emergency department. We were there for eight hours and the staff worked hard to keep us comfortable and let us know what test was coming up, when results would be available and then the obvious,.."when will the doctor come by?" Very patient people work in the ED ... very patient, but also very calm.

Maybe you will leave the ED and return home to your family to rest and recover for a few days. What a blessing right?? That was not in the cards for the Martin Family in Aug and Dec of 2009. After many rounds of testing on Bennett (some were not very fun at all for my baby) we began to explore the possibility of exploratory surgery, which then led to an emergency surgery in the middle of the night, which allowed them to find intermittent intesseseption (will let you google that one).

Within sixteen hours, my nine week old had two surgeries. Hardest week of my life, no doubt. However, there were some very tender moments all designed by God specifically for us to witness and be a part of. Would I sign back up? Not on your life. Would I change it? Not necessarily. We witnessed some stunningly beautiful things inside that hospital.

My husband and I held Bennett in the PACU and watched the sun rise over I 40 and cried like school children when we realized our son survived an intense emergency surgery, was back in our arms and wanting to eat. The first time my mom and I changed a dirty diaper after they removed the obstruction in December, we were dancing and singing to the tops of our lungs with excitement over poop! There were random acts of kindness, some with names, some without ... the nurse who did all her work at night with a flashlight, so she would not disturb me. Another nurse in Intermediate Care that came on at 7:00pm, who would walk in, scoop up Bennett and tell me to go to bed as this was her baby for the next 10 hours. Church members dropping off bags of food and clean laundry. People letting us know that they were there for us without actually being "there for us."

The first thing you will notice about Brenner is the staff. We were blown away at their level of dedication to making our baby well. From the lab tech, to the nurses assistant, to the medical school student, residents and attendings, your child, while they are in that building for that day or night, is their number one priority. Honestly, you will come to know these people on a very personal level, which is unlike most medical settings. And that is simply, that you love your child and you slowly realize...they love your child, too. The nurses are angels...all of them. I will not single any out, because we loved them all. Whatever your child needs, they will find it and get it to you. They will also bring you warm blankets at night when its time to go to bed.

The doctors...the doctors. I can't repay them, and I can't thank them enough, so how do you live the rest of your life thinking about a group people that ultimately saved your child's life or at least the integrity of his life? You can''s not really possible. And in actuality, they are not in this business to be thanked excessively, it's just what they do. I of course only had experience with a handful of physicians within Brenner (as there are hundreds), but I can tell you we were blessed to cross paths with some of the country's finest pediatric surgeons. Simply awesome...rock star status.

And then of course the general Peds team, which is filled with bright young doctors who will one day be fantastic pediatricians. They will be fantastic not only because of their intelligence, but because of their sweet caring spirits. My suggestion to a parent here is to do two things. First, learn the names of all of the residents and attendings and write them down. Find out who has night call and find out the name of the nurse manager. You may never need it, but at 1:00 am on a Thursday morning, I was calling everyone I knew to come to Bennett's room to look at him, An hour later he was rushed to surgery. Do some homework, listen, take notes and don't be afraid to ask questions...I sure did.

There will not be a day that goes by were I do not think about the patients, doctors, nurses and staff and Brenner. It is a very very special place. Before the H1N1 restrictions, your entire family could come and use the roof top playground and the numerous play rooms that they have available. My older two sons loved playing with the volunteers in the play room. Just another way Brenner is trying to make things easier for families while you are in the hospital. You have your own shower, bed, sink and closet in your hospital room. It is about as comfortable as you can be when your child is sick. The Einstein Bagel Shoppe in the Ardmore Cafeteria can also supply you with mucho caffeine and yummy bagels.

I could not close without telling you that my baby is perfect in so many ways. Yes, he has a little battle scar, but boys are kinda into that stuff right? He is fine and we realized quickly that while we were leaving Brenner "fixed", there are many who do not. Once you step out of your box/room, it is there where you start to become very aware of the level of illness and injury that are present within those walls. Pray for these children, their parents and their doctors that they will heal them and return to doing what they love the most.

Lots of people have asked me, "What can I do, or what did people do to help you?" Well, when we returned home we received a hot meal for our family and grandparents who were in town for 2 weeks. It was the biggest gift of love and compassion from a group of women who for a second, put themselves in my shoes. They fed our bellies, but more importantly they fed our hearts and souls. And lastly, when a friend, neighbor or co-worker has a child in the hospital try and resist the urge to tell them to go home and get some rest. I tell you this piece of advice because it started to irritate me when people would try and get me to leave. Of course where I would want to be was with my child. For that moment, that day, that week, my world was in that room and leaving my world was the LAST thing I wanted to do.

Thoughts of safety and wellness from my house to yours.....

And don't forget to register for our fabulous March camp give-aways! Win one free camp slot at Salem Sports Camp for Kids in Winston-Salem, or at Eastern Music Festival's Explorer's Camp in Greensboro! The last day to register will be March 12.


R.J.M. said...

Amazing story. I am sure this was difficut to write. We appreciate you sharing it so it can help others who may end up in a situation similar to yours.

Jennifer said...

We live in Summerfield and it is well worth the drive for us to come to Brenner in an emergency. Unfortunately we have already had three ED visits since our kids were small, but they were all taken care of with the utmost care and concern at Brenner. You are right in stating that a pediatrician in the ED makes a world of difference.

Jayna P. said...

What a wonderful job you did writing this piece. I can’t imagine how frightening that must have been for your entire family. I am so happy Bennett is doing well and I will defiantly heed your advice to go to Brenner’s for emergency care if ever my children are in a similar predicament (which I PRAY never happens!) Thanks for sharing!!

Kelly G. said...

Brenner's has done a wonderful job for us through ear tubes, surgery for a broken nose, and a broken collarbone. My kids both think the best part is driving up the garage to see the helicopter.

Angela G. said...

Deborah, Thank you for sharing your story. It is wonderful to recognize the gifted doctors and nurses that work at Brennars, and you gave great advice to all of us who want to help out somehow. We are so grateful that Bennett is well.

And you're right, chicks dig scars. :-)

Leslie said...

Thank you so much for writing and posting this piece. As a nurse in the Pediatric ICU at Brenners, it is shocking to me the number of parents who are not aware that we are the only Pediatric ED in the area. I guess it's a common misperception that since most women give birth at Forsyth, they feel like they can take their children there in an emergency. However, it's really scary to think that a child could be cared for by anesthesiologists and surgeons that are not specifically trained in pediatrics. Thanks for clearing this up and spreading the word!

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