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It’s a frightening experience for a parent - having to take their child to the emergency room for a broken bone and worse, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Savannah Strachan’s fear turned into a reality on the morning of April 10.

Published Jan 27th, 2021

By Brittany Otis
botis@health.southalabama.edu

It’s a frightening experience for a parent - having to take their child to the emergency room for a broken bone and worse, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Savannah Strachan’s fear turned into a reality on the morning of April 10.

Strachan’s son, seven-year-old Evarist, was with his father in Mississippi when he fell from a zip line and broke his arm. Strachan was panicked when she received the call.

“My first instinct was to get my son closer to me for care, which is in New Orleans. However, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the hospital I wanted to send him to was not accepting patients who weren’t in critical condition,” she said. “His father called a doctor who said Evarist would need to be seen by an orthopedist. When the doctor started saying things like ‘nerve damage,’ ‘surgery’ and ‘pins’ that would need to be placed in his arm, I knew Evarist needed immediate care but I didn’t know where to go to.”

Left wondering what to do next, Strachan called a friend in Mobile for advice - a pediatric anesthesiologist who works at USA Health Children’s & Women’s Hospital, which provides pediatric specialty care. “Once she reassured me Evarist would be in great hands in Mobile, we were headed that way,” she said.

Strachan packed a bag for Evarist and called an ambulance. On the way to Mobile, Evarist had to ride in the ambulance by himself due to COVID-19 restrictions. Strachan and her son’s father were following close behind. “I kept reminding myself to unclench my jaw,” she said.

As they arrived at USA Health University Hospital, Strachan, due to recent visitor policy changes for safety, couldn’t see her son immediately. “Only one visitor was allowed to be with Evarist. His father and I spent the evening switching out. It was very stressful, but the staff helped me get through the night.”

A couple of hours after Evarist arrived at the hospital, an orthopedist caring for him said his bones would need to be reset and his arm was put in a splint. Evarist was transferred to Children’s & Women’s Hospital.

Before he was sent to Children’s & Women’s Hospital, a nurse gave Evarist something special. “It was toy dinosaur,” Strachan said. “She also gave him glow in the dark airplanes – Evarist loved it. It was one of many indications of how considerate the staff was to a worrying mother and her injured son.”

From the ambulance drivers, X-ray technicians, doctors and nurses, Strachan couldn’t believe how gracious everyone was during the night. The next morning, Strachan said she woke up to a smiling team at Children’s & Women’s Hospital that were ready to care for her son as he went into surgery.

While waiting to be taken back for surgery, Evarist made an immediate bond with an orthopedist caring for him. “The orthopedist was a Saints fan. Evarist had a Saints blanket with him and they talked about football. It was a bright spot in the day,” Strachan said.

After a successful surgery, Evarist was discharged from the hospital with good news. The humerus nerve in his arm was stretched but not damaged. It would heal with time. “It was a big relief,” Strachan said. “I was so glad we brought him to USA Health. The staff at both hospitals were busy, but at the same time made us feel important.” 

She said USA Health has left a lasting impression on her that she made a financial contribution to the hospitals and plans to donate toys to the pediatric emergency room.

“They helped my son in a critical time while at the same time helping others. The staff that keeps a smile on their faces no matter the circumstances are our true heroes. For a parent, that experience meant the world to me and I’m forever grateful.”

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