labor of love
Next weekend, the new children’s wing opens, and I am giddy.
It is full of light, full of promise, a place to teach, to inspire, to walk forward and take care of children better than I ever could have imagined. . . and it’s opening is years in the making.
It goes back to a long term doctor here who loved children with hydrocephalus and spina bifida . . .
to a donor who saw the work and, with his own child struggling with the same medical problems, decided to fund a large part of the project bringing countless others with them. . .
to engineers who have given up years to make it happen. . .
to a medical director turned interior designer to make sure it was beautiful for the kids and nurses and doctors who worked there. . .
to hundreds of women around the world who quilted in green and blue and teal to put new, unique, and gorgeous quilts on every bed. . .
to David carving fish shelves and painting tables and chairs for the play room. . .
to two churches, one in Alabama and one in Australia, who raised money to allow the final touches with decals that make sea creatures swim in the hallways, and birds perch on trees in the rooms.
to innumerable partnerships that made the smallest and biggest details happen. . .
Last Wednesday, Mardi took a day off of medical directing and I took a day off of pediatrics, and we put 360 fish and octopi and jelly fish on the walls. I have not been so sore from standing and sitting, squatting and squinting in a long time. We placed schools of fish and diving turtles and twisting seaweed. We marveled that 2 1/2 years from the original open date that this was really happening.
From 9am to 6pm, we wandered the halls and placed each decal carefully, clapping and squealing with delight when a wall was complete (much to the amusement of the Kenyan painters and builders finishing other projects).
Near the end of the day, the lead architect came in and was going down one of the final checklists. He stopped, watching us place the word Hope over our new HDU/ICU and shook his head with a slightly bewildered smile.
“This place really is a labor of love, isn’t it?” he said.
Mardi and I looked at each other and nodded.
This building is much more than concrete and tile and paint and piping and oxygen in the walls. It has been built with overwhelming generosity, great faith, and deep love. I am glad to have worked on the other ward, where we have taken excellent care of children and adapted less than ideal facilities, and I am privileged to stand on the shoulders of the men and women who have poured so many hours into these rooms and beds. I am thrilled to work in this place where we will continue to serve the needy and the vulnerable, to care for the widow and the orphan, and to bring hope to hopeless situations.
(below a picture of our pediatric team right now – the clinical officers, interns, and Ima on the balcony above the new play room)
Seventy five years ago, Dr. Bill Barnett laid the acoustic tiles in the OR floor himself, and as David collected stories of the history of the hospital, the story recurred again and again. As Mardi and I placed the decals, I had visions of him in his overalls, side by side with us. What I love about medicine here is that it pours over beyond orders and studies – it seeps into the walls and the details, into the relationships and the paint and the color schemes.
And, woven throughout the medical dilemmas you will find our hearts.