Saturday, February 26, 2011

An Afternoon at Cook Children's Hospital: Anything But Routine

Visiting families at Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth has never become routine for me. And it never will… I have been making pastoral visits there for about 20 years. The building has been updated and the technology in the intensive care units has changed significantly during that time period. But the needs of families with sick babies and young children have remained unchanged.


Once upon a time many years ago I envisioned myself being a chaplain in a children’s hospital. That thought crossed my mind today as I visited with the father of a very sick newborn boy. My heart was immediately wrapped up in his concern for his baby son.  I could not help but think: I am not sure I could do this everyday with dozens of families!


As we chatted in the hallway adjacent to the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit, we both saw Care-Flight personnel transferring another newborn baby in a portable incubator to the NICU unit. The child had been flown in on a helicopter from somewhere…. Cook’s covers a large geographical area. A young father in his early 20’s was in an U.S. Army uniform. I did not see the baby’s mother. It is highly likely that she is still hospitalized somewhere after giving birth.


While the rest of us are going about our Saturday routines there are dozens of families at Cook Children’s Hospital waiting to receive word from a doctor about their sick baby, or dozing in a hospital room chair. There is always a lot of human drama unfolding in any hospital, but children’s hospitals are unique. I have ridden elevators with young children hospitalized to take chemotherapy more than once. That is one of many reasons that visiting a children’s hospital has never become routine…


I am grateful today for nurses and all kinds of other medical specialists that serve sick infants and children. God gave such servants a special compassion gene in their DNA makeup. They are top notch in the field of pediatric care, and equally good in their treatment of anxious parents. I have great respect for the nurses in the emergency room at Cook’s who witness horrific cases of child abuse along with all kinds of other trauma cases. I am truly amazed at the skill of the surgical and intensive care nurses. The complicated technology they use everyday is mind boggling.


My visit at Cook Children’s Hospital today was not routine. It ended up being a strong wake up call. I walked to the parking garage realizing how fortunate I was to rub shoulders with those that have that special compassion gene in their DNA…

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