When Distraction is a Gift

A Cyclone family’s gratitude creates a more comforting space for pediatric patients.

by Debra Gibson

The Campbell Family Foundation provided support to enhance  Mary Greeley’s Pediatrics treatment room. The Campbells are shown here in Jack Trice Stadium, where they obviously spend a lot of time. Tara Webber needed to start an IV on a 5-month-old baby who, no surprise, was really not into the whole IV thing.
Webber, supervisor of Mary Greeley’s Pediatrics Unit, and her little patient were in a pediatric treatment room that had been livened up with colorful art and outfitted with an iPad. She decided to play the infectious “Baby Shark” video on it, which immediately relaxed the anxiety-ridden infant. The procedure then went fine.

You can just imagine Webber whispering, “Thanks, Coach.”

That would be in reference to Iowa State Cyclones football coach Matt Campbell. His family’s act of gratitude for care received at Mary Greeley helped create that space where pediatric patients can be wonderfully distracted while getting the care they need.

Ailing Child

By late afternoon on Saturday, September 2, 2017, the Campbell family was flying high. Coach Campbell had just led his team to a season-opener victory over the University of Northern Iowa, winning 42–24. His wife, Erica, with some of their four children in tow as well as her dad and Matt’s parents, drove to the Campbells’ Ames home to continue basking in the team’s success.

The euphoria was short-lived. Izzy Campbell, two weeks shy of her 8th birthday, was at home writhing in pain, having spent the day with Erica’s mother. Stomachaches had plagued her for several days, but then eased the day before the game. Periodic phone calls between Erica and medical professionals suggested she’d picked up the stomach bug plaguing her elementary school. But amid the post-game revelry, Erica and her mother bundled up Izzy and drove her to Mary Greeley Medical Center’s Emergency Department.

One push on the girl’s lower right side and a subsequent ultrasound determined Izzy’s appendix had burst the day before. By Sunday morning, McFarland Clinic surgeon Dr. Greg Sachs had removed the appendix remnants in a race to beat the spreading infection. The typically spunky second-grader spent the next seven days fighting severe pain from the infection as well as near-constant intestinal distress.

While grandparents and then sitters shepherded the remaining three Campbell kids during Izzy’s hospitalization and Matt’s grueling schedule, Erica remained at her daughter’s bedside, grateful for the constant presence of medical professionals who made their lives easier. McFarland Clinic pediatric hospitalists Dr. Kathleen Foster-Wendel and Dr. Laura Hufford, McFarland Clinic pediatric hospitalist, soothed Izzy, eventually ordering her a pain medication pump she could control.

When the nauseous girl wouldn’t eat for her mom, Hufford fed Izzy. Nurses kept her stocked in DVDs and gifts like a handmade blanket and pillowcase and a purple teddy bear, items donated to all pediatric patients. One nurse sat with Izzy to calm her in the evenings when the pain was at its worst.

By the following Saturday, Izzy was released and angling to attend that day’s home football game against Iowa. Though the Campbells “had to beef her back up” after Izzy’s significant weight loss, her recovery was soon complete. But the experience stayed with Matt and Erica, and they knew they wanted to share their gratitude for their daughter’s exceptional care.

A Better Healing Space

A gift to the Mary Greeley Foundation from Campbell’s Kids, the Matt and Erica Campbell Family Foundation, which provides needed dollars to support children in the areas of education, community, health, and quality of life was used to enhance the pediatric procedure room. The room now boasts colorful walls decked out in whimsical animal prints and an iPad cradled in an extended arm that is attached to the bed.

“Once you come here, and you see how it all works, you feel a part of it,” Erica said. “Even when you’re in that vulnerable position, you want to give back.”

Erica will now continue to give back as a member of Mary Greeley’s new Maternal/Child Patient and Family Advisory Council, which provides input on the hospital’s new Birthways/NICU/pediatrics floor.

The Campbells’ story of gratitude is just one of many at Mary Greeley. For more information on how you can share your story with the Foundation or how you can make a gift, please call 515-239-2147 or visit www.mgmc.org/grateful.

A pediatric patient relaxes in the procedure room while watching a cartoon on an iPad, which is cradled in a specially designed arm.

iPads to the Rescue 

Acting on a mom’s advice, Mary Greeley provides young patients with a more comforting space.

When her 4-year-old daughter was admitted to Mary Greeley's Pediatrics Unit, Allie Wulfekuhle saw an opportunity. The youngster was taken to the Pediatrics treatment room for tests, and Wulfekuhle was underwhelmed by the atmosphere.

“It was a stark white room with nothing on the walls,” said the Ames mom of four and part-time faculty member in ISU’s kinesiology department. “We knew from visiting other hospitals with our daughter that using iPads with her while she was having procedures served as a great distraction for her.”

So Wulfekuhle shared those suggestions for distraction therapy during a pediatrics outtake interview. (Wulfekuhle is a member of Mary Greeley’s Patient and Family Advisory Council, and Maternal/Child Patient and Family Advisory Council.)

Wulfekuhle’s feedback resulted in the purchase of two iPads with a grant funded by the Mary Greeley Auxiliary. The iPads are available for patients to use while staying on the Pediatrics floor.

Recently, Wulfekuhle was able to experience the treatment room after all the special touches were added thanks to a gift from Campbell’s Kids, the Matt and Erica Campbell Family Foundation. Her son was bitten by a dog while visiting grandparents, and was whisked into the treatment room for IV insertion. The iPad attached to a swing arm was positioned above the boy’s head, providing access to attention-diverting Lego cartoons.

“That procedure would not have been successful without the iPad,” a grateful Wulfekuhle said.

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