I heard the cries as soon as I entered the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. One of the harsh truths of a cold winter like this is that we see an increased number of children with burns from families using alternative heat sources to keep warm. I knew those cries were from a young child whose burn dressings were being changed.
The two year old boy had been living in an illegal apartment in the city. Illegal, because it did not meet requirements for being rented out. But it was. A young mother was renting it with her 2 and 4 year old sons and her disabled mother. There was no heat and according to the Mom it was also bug infested. She had gone out the local Dunkin Donuts to buy donuts and coffee and left the two young boys with the grandmother. The curious 2 year old had climbed up on the stove to reach for a cup–in the process, the stove with a boiling pot of water on top of it, which had been used to try to warm up the apartment–fell on him. He sustained burns over 30% of his body.
We have been visiting this family ever since. The parents are separated but have pulled together as they face a future of daily dressings changes, skin grafts and eventual transfer to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago for physical and occupational therapy. A Bishop Anderson House teddy bear was given to the little boy on the first day by the chaplain. A few days later, while the boy underwent another painful dressing change, the bear waited for him in the little red wagon outside of his room–it too was wrapped in burn dressings to match the ones on the little boy. One day soon the boy and the teddy bear will be transferred to RIC. It is our hope and prayer that in the midst of this difficult time this family will remember the care of the medical team that so tenderly cared for them, which included 2 of our BAH chaplains.