12/20/02 - Brighter Christmas

It's always difficult to have a loved one in the hospital. But this time of year it puts an added strain, especially on parents, who have to see their child that sick. Hospital staff team together to make it a little easier on families. They try to make the hospital as much like home as they can, so none of their patients miss out on the holidays.
Southeast Hospital nurse Jeanne Essner says, "We kind of bend the rules a little bit to let extra activities go on at this time." It's hard not to bend the rules for patients like 8-year-old Luke Keesee. Luke has pneumonia, and may be in the hospital on Christmas day. His grandmother Bonnie Counts says, "We're trying to encourage him to eat to help himself get home." Until that time comes, Luke has to celebrate Christmas at Southeast Hospital.
Nurses try to make his stay as comfortable as possible. His favorite thing about being there is getting presents. A basketball and a puzzle are just a few of the gifts he's gotten, but Luke's holding out for something else. "The most thing I want is playstation games," he says. His grandmother, and the rest of his family hope he's home to get them. "His sisters miss him and I think by the time he gets home it will be a pretty good Christmas." his grandmother says.
Across town at Saint Francis Medical Center a door, wrapped like a present, leads Cheryll Hendricks to her daughter, Emily's room. Emily was born with a VATR syndrome. Her whole life, she's been in and out of the hospital. Her mother says, "She's been in the over the holidays before. We've probably hit every holiday there was available." One of Emily's Christmas wishes is much different than other girls her age. "I'm aiming to be out by Christmas Eve," Emily says. "If not we'll bring my I Love Lucy tree from my bedroom and have Christmas here."
Her mother says, "They're wonderful to make sure she's accommodated and her needs are met. She's still incorporated into the season, they meet her needs."