“We thought Liam just had a respiratory virus and a cough, but it wouldn’t clear,” Liam’s mom Jackie said. She brought Liam to his primary care physician who sent them home with a nebulizer treatment and an at-home maintenance plan. Liam still wasn’t improving and became lethargic. Jackie and her husband, Devin, made the decision to bring Liam to their local emergency department. When the admitting nurse took his vitals and saw his oxygen level she called for a respiratory team immediately.
With an oxygen level in the 80s, the team at the local hospital knew that they could not provide the appropriate level of care needed to help Liam. “They gave us the news I never expected to hear—we needed to be transferred a children’s hospital via ambulance because Liam was now in respiratory failure,” Jackie said. “We were given a choice to be transferred wherever we wanted and I knew that the only place I wanted to go was Lurie Children’s.”
When the family arrived at Lurie Children’s, Liam was immediately admitted into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) where he would stay for the next five days. While in the PICU, Liam was placed on a high flow nasal cannula, but the team soon realized that was not enough and he was then placed on a high flow controlled oxygen mask. “There is something about hearing your son say ‘help me daddy, help me’ that is heart-crushing,” Devin said. “But, what made me feel better was being able to explain to him that he was in the best hands, and being truly confident that he was.”
Slowly Liam improved and was ultimately diagnosed with viral/allergy induced asthma.
“The care and comfort provided to Liam, as well as me and Devin was phenomenal,” Jackie said. “One of the nurses, Katie Ahrens, made sure to check on us and was a calming presence for two nervous parents.”
Jackie and Devin appreciated the inclusion of parents in the doctor/fellow rounds in the morning and the the bedside manner of the lead pediatrician to relay what we they had heard in understandable language. “The physicians explained the serious nature of Liam’s condition in a way that we could understand, while providing the unwavering confidence that made us certain we made the right decision in transferring Liam to Lurie Children’s,” Jackie said.
Jackie and Devin also found support from the Family Services team who helped them manage their stress and found activities for Liam’s twin brother, Aidan, to participate in. “The amazing care of the entire Lurie Children’s team is something for which our family will be eternally grateful,” Jackie said. “From the transport team, to the PICU nurses and physicians, to the Family Servicesstaff—every person made us feel like we were the most important people to them when they were in Liam’s room.”
Jackie and Devin knew that Lurie Children’s would be their first choice if they ever had to return to the hospital—they just didn’t know it would be so soon. Months after Liam’s stay, Aidan started experiencing similar labored breathing due to a respiratory virus. “We made the decision to bypass our local ER and went directly to Lurie Children’s,” Jackie said. Aidan was admitted to the hospital where the family spent three days helping Aidan overcome his respiratory illness.
“In the grand scheme of life, we were in the hospital for a very short time, but for two scared parents with sick children, it felt like an eternity,” Jackie said. “Lurie Children’s is—without a doubt—a world-class children’s hospital where not only the patient comes first, but so does the entire family.”