Last autumn, Amy received a call from the school nurse because Gavin had stomach pain on his right side. “As soon as I picked him up, I knew something was way off.”
Their pediatrician sent Gavin to Emerson for an ultrasound. The technician returned quickly with the results — Gavin’s appendix needed to come out to prevent it from bursting and causing infection.
People Make the Difference
Gavin went immediately to Emerson’s emergency department. There, he experienced the extraordinary care that Emerson is known for. Mark Brady, physician assistant, quickly bonded with Gavin when they realized they had the same shoes and shared a birthday. The team’s ability to make personal connections with Gavin eased his experience.
Mallory, a member of Emerson’s child life team, visited Gavin. “She talked with us like we had known her our entire lives,” says Amy. “We never expected to have someone who would gently and kindly guide us through this anxious time.”
Mallory helped Gavin with breathing exercises to calm his mind and distract him from the pain. She shared jokes and presented Gavin with a coping kit of distraction toys. “This blew me away. I was so grateful,” remembers Amy.
‘Where We Are Supposed to Be’
Amy needed to make a quick decision: stay at Emerson where Gavin could have his appendix removed that day by Christopher Schlieve, MD, Emerson general surgeon who is fellowship trained in pediatric colorectal surgery, or go elsewhere. “I thought, ‘I love everyone we met at Emerson. There is no way we are leaving. This is where we are supposed to be.’ The genuine sense of ‘we care for you’ made the decision to stay an easy one.”
Dr. Schlieve rearranged his schedule so he could perform Gavin’s surgery immediately. “He told us he never wants a child to be in pain and have to wait for surgery. I was so grateful I almost burst into tears. This was another confirmation that we were in the right place,” Amy explains. As nurses brought Gavin to the operating area to prepare for surgery, Mallory held his hand. “She distracted him in positive ways. She was an angel for both of us.”
After surgery, pediatric hospitalist Timothy Baba, MD, cared for Gavin in the recovery room. “They quickly realized they both play guitar and enjoy theater,” says Amy. “They were kindred spirits.”
A week later, Gavin returned for a checkup with Dr. Schlieve. “Everything looked great. Gavin quickly returned to his happy, healthy self,” Amy says.
According to Gavin, “Everyone took really good care of me and they were all very nice.” Amy sums up the experience, saying, “The team at Emerson was top-notch. We could not have been in a better place.”
Emerson’s Child Life Team
When a child needs hospital care, it can often be a stressful experience. Emerson’s team of professionally-trained specialists reduces children’s worry and stress by:
- Finding opportunities for play
- Explaining medical procedures in ways that children understand
- Offering emotional and coping support to young patients and their families
Our child life team works with children of all ages in the emergency department, surgical center, pediatric inpatient floor, and all areas that young patients are seen at Emerson.
For more information about Emerson’s child life team, visit emersonhealth.org/childlife.
Podcast: Preparing Your Child for Surgery
Listen to Emerson child life specialists explain how the hospital provides a welcoming, compassionate environment for our pediatric patients and visitors. They also offer tips for parents whose children will be undergoing a surgical procedure.
Visit our podcast page to find more episodes on a variety of topics or subscribe to the Health Works Here Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and wherever podcasts can be heard.