Portable video console eases pain of tiny patients
Appeal Staff Writer
Liam Spears, 2, is a big Lightening McQueen fan, so much that he watched the candy-apple red, animated stockcar save the day in Disney’s “Cars” – six times in a row Friday.
Liam’s had a rough month.
After becoming a big brother for the first time at the end of June, he fell in the shower Wednesday afternoon and broke his left femur.
Sitting up in his hospital bed with his head crooked to the side in the pediatrics unit of the Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center, Liam smiled as the Pixar stockcar, voiced by actor Owen Wilson, vroomed victoriously during the movie’s climax.
A fiberglass cast covered his left leg, toe to hip, and an IV ran into his right arm.
As the movie’s credits rolled, Liam clapped, waking his 6-week-old brother, Colin, asleep in a small cot next to him in the family’s private room.
Their mother, Apryl Chavez, 24, a server at the Carson Bully’s Sports Bar and Grill, had spent the last two nights in the hospital and was readying the two young siblings for a return home Friday evening.
As Liam asked to watch his movie again, Apryl obliged and smiled apologetically.
“Normally, we don’t do this at home, but it’s a great distraction for him,” she said motioning to a small TV monitor outfitted with a DVD player and a Nintendo Gamecube. “He’s been very good through all this and gets a little special treatment.”
The pediatrics unit is outfitted with two video consoles, which can be wheeled from room to room.
“The (Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation) acts as a conduit for businesses to give,” said hospital spokesman Jon Tyler. “Hollywood Video provided the funding for this particular unit and the movie store gave the family a gift pack for when Liam goes home.”
While movie and video game time may be limited at home, the distraction at the hospital is a welcome one for many parents and young patients said registered nurse Brenda Foley.
“It makes an unhappy person a lot happier, and it makes our jobs a lot easier,” she said. “Our responsibility is to give them the best care we can and to make them as happy as we can while they’re here.
“A lot of the time they’re the star of the show here – when they go home, they have siblings to deal with, along with their daily routine. Some don’t want to go – they find pretty quickly it’s a nice place to be.”
The hardwood floors and earthtone walls of the pediatrics unit in the 18-month-old hospital added to that not-so-clinical feeling that Chavez appreciated.
“It’s been an overall great experience. They’ve been tremendous in helping us, right Liam?” she said as her son made car noises and a driving motion with his hands. His favorite movie was about to start – for the seventh time.
For your information
A Los Angeles-based nonprofit called Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation, whose mission is to “touch the lives of a sick child and family all along their journey though serious illness” made Liam’s movie day possible.
The foundation helps hospitals build playrooms and teen lounges, as well as provide computers and video equipment for the type of multi-media experience patients enjoy during their hospital stays.
• Contact reporter Andrew Pridgen at 881-1219.