Avera Medical Minute ASL: Hospitals don't have to be a 'Scary Pl - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Avera Medical Minute ASL: Hospitals don't have to be a 'Scary Place'

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Gavin Nickelson, 5, gives a high-five to Pediatric Nurse Joan Hartung after learning the hospital is an "ok" place to be Gavin Nickelson, 5, gives a high-five to Pediatric Nurse Joan Hartung after learning the hospital is an "ok" place to be

It's a safe bet that more than a few of you out there don't like going to the doctor. But what if you had to keep going back every single day? Going to the hospital can be a scary experience for anyone, especially for a five-year old like Gavin Nickelson.

"Something so small turned into something major." Said Trista Nickelson.

While playing by the lake, Gavin stepped on something and before he knew it, his foot was infected and swelling.

"A couple days later they cultured it and it tested positive for the staff infection MRSA." Said Nickelson.

That brought Gavin here, the pediatrics wing of Avera St. Luke's. Gavin had to have surgery on his foot on the day he was supposed to be starting Kindergarten. Because of the serious infection, he and his family had to come to the hospital twice a day for eight days to receive IV antibiotics.

"For him it was the unknown, it was scary all he knows is he's getting poked, but the staff was really good at explaining things to us and to him too, him not going on asking why we're doing all this stuff, they made it a lot easier." Said Nickelson.

Pediatric Nurse Joan Hartung treats patients like Gavin every single day. But it's not just shots and taking temperatures , her job is to make sure while young patients are at the hospital they feel like they've never left home.

"If you're not stressed you can recover a lot faster and playing is kid's work so anything we can do here to make them feel more comfortable, that helps with the healing environment." Said Hartung.

I'm sure a fully loaded toy room also helps kids like Gavin forget about the pain for a while. For the nurses on the pediatrics wing, they're not just caretakers they also become friends. And with more than 200 years of combined pediatric experience they know how to fit in with these kids

"They can relate to us more if we have a Dora the Explorer on or a Cookie Monster, whatever scrubs, they like it! We always get comments like oh did you see what they have on today?" Said Hartung.

After a few weeks of treatment, the infection in Gavin's foot has gone down. He's finally back on his feet and ready to be a kid again.

"He's active, he likes football and playing basketball and playing with his brothers and rough housing so he's back to his normal." Said Nickelson.

Gavin probably doesn't want to come back to the hospital anytime soon but at least now he knows, he's got a few friends there.

"We always say we'll see you at Walmart, we'll see you at Storybookland but we don't want to see you back up here, but if you do have to come up here it's the place to be!" Said Hartung. 

After surgery, Gavin had to stay off his foot while it healed which made the hospital's Playstation a life saver for him and his parents. For more information about Avera St. Luke's pediatrics just call 877-AT-AVERA.

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