One quiet afternoon while home with her father Scott, six-year-old Emma accidentally knocked over a bottle of commercial-grade drain opener which was stored in a closet. Not realizing the danger, she tried to clean up the spill herself with paper towels, kneeling in the caustic liquid. Within minutes it burned through her pants and into her left shin.
When Emma showed her father the “brown spot” on her leg, he quickly realized what happened. They rushed to the local children’s hospital where, after a four-hour wait, the two were dispatched to the burn experts at Shriners Hospitals for Children—Cincinnati.
Emma’s wound was treated that same day, and Scott was given all the training and supplies they would need to help it heal at home. But at a follow-up visit two weeks later, the depth of the wound had not improved sufficiently—Emma would need a skin graft.
Dr. Petra Warner, Cincinnati Shriners Hospital Chief of Staff and burn surgeon, put the family at ease with her careful briefing of the procedure. “It is important to make parents feel heard and included, and that is exactly what Dr. Warner did,” Emma’s mother Christina recalled of the experience.
Emma, who often experiences anxiety in stressful situations, was particularly calm about the process, much to her parents’ surprise. “I knew I was safe because all the doctors were smiling at me,” Emma told them. Christina credits the clear information and patience of the nursing and child life staff with Emma’s unexpected tolerance. “Emma loves structure, so their descriptions for her using IPads worked wonders,” Christina said.
The caring staff of Cincinnati Shriners Hospital made sure Emma was prepared even after she went home. “They actually mailed us extra compression garments [worn to keep scarring to a minimum] over the summer so Emma could go swimming; we didn’t have to ask. Who does that?!” Christina marveled.
Today, Emma is thriving. Though she will need a few more visits, her progress has been excellent. “You don’t know the future,” Christina said of the frightening episode, “but today Emma can run all the way around the track at her school! The nurses at Cincinnati Shriners Hospital always made her feel special, so she knows she can do whatever she sets out to do.”