Why we need KU Med Center

Right before a trip to Lake of the Ozarks over Labor Day weekend, I sat at the pediatrician’s office with kiddo No. 3. His ears hurt, and I wanted to get them checked before we spent a weekend solely dedicated to being in and around water.

The appointment was scheduled easily enough, and in a whirlwind exit, I pulled into school 10 minutes after the 8 a.m. bell—sorry Mrs. Jost!—and got us to Newton in time for an 8:45 a.m. appointment.

And then we waited.

I know for some doctor’s offices, that’s a normal expectation. But at our pediatrician, it is unusual. So naturally, when the doc arrived, he apologized profusely.

The reason for the wait? A family needed to be pushed to the top of the appointment list, thereby having a child admitted to the hospital.

Been there.

Our family has, more than once, needed to cut in line for an emergency appointment and for subsequent hospitalization. As for our pediatrician, we trust him to do what needs to be done, whether it is for our family or someone else, and I told him so.

You can bet I treasured our moment as “the waiters,” thankful this time that we weren’t the ones with an emergency on our hands.

September is the anniversary of our oldest daughter’s surgery that served to relieve symptoms of her blood disease. At the time, she was 2. Now she is 9.

We have always known she would have a story to tell. Her medical journey is forever a part of her life, and of ours. Hereditary spherocytosis has been a source of pain, grief, anger, frustration and anxiety.

It has also been a great catalyst of growth.

In celebration of the anniversary of her successful surgery, I want to share an essay—and testimonial—Gracelyn wrote last school year, answering the question, “What place is important to Kansas, and why?”

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University of Kansas

Medical Center

Since 1906, the University of Kansas Medical Center has been an important place in Kansas. Dr. Simeon Bell donated money and land to form the hospital. Its first name was Eleanor Taylor Bell Hospital, named after Dr. Bell’s wife. In 1940 it was renamed University of Kansas Medical Center.

University of Kansas Medical Center is not just a hospital. It’s also a school. People come to the hospital to learn how to be a doctor, nurse or surgeon. My Uncle Ben went to school there. He learned how to be a doctor. But he isn’t the only person in our family who has been to the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Over 100 years after the hospital opened, I had surgery there.

I was born with hereditary spherocytosis. After I was born, my parents and doctors didn’t know what was wrong. I had jaundice, and I had to wear a light, or biliblanket, to treat it. After we came home, everything was going right until my one-year-old check up. That was when I started taking blood transfusions. I saw blood specialists, a dietitian, and a growth specialist, but still, no one knew what was wrong.

Then I met Dr. T at the University of Kansas Medical Center. After she took my blood tests, she said that my blood cells were shaped funny. She said she knew what was wrong with me. Then I had a surgery at the University of Kansas Medical Center. The surgery was called a splenectomy. My spleen was taken out by a surgeon. Then PICU nurses came. They were nice. They gave me lots of gifts including a teddy bear, a quilt and a Dr. Seuss character.

The University of Kan­sas Medical Center is important because people that are sick like me can get better so they don’t have to be sick their whole lives. One hundred people get surgeries there a day! The hospital is the region’s only Level 1 Trauma Center and it has been ranked nationally since 2007 as a “Best Hospital” in U.S. News & World Report.

I’m thankful Dr. Bell funded the University of Kansas Medical Center. It is important to me, and it is important to our state. (Sources: www.kumed.com; www.wikipedia.org)

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Yes, we have much to be thankful for.

Malinda Just has been writing her monthly column for the Free Press since 2008. She can be reached at malinda@justs.org.