Story and photo by James Coburn, Staff Writer
Children’s smiles shine through their daily challenges, said Jenny Simon, RN, Bethany Children’s Health Center.
Nurses have hope even when experiencing difficult situations. They try their best to help children achieve recovery from the point they are in life.
“So, we see that change especially when working here. And that’s really rewarding for us, too,” she said.
She was inspired by the children’s resilience when beginning her career four years ago, after earning her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at Oklahoma City University Kramer School of Nursing.
“It’s just been amazing to see kids who have gone through such traumatic things and the miracle of where they are now,” Simon said. “Just to see that change in them and being able to be side-by-side with them — even our kids that are in long-term care and seeing their ups and lows, it’s amazing to see God’s work.” (story continues below)
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Children come to the center for various reasons. Children may have been injured in accidents. There might have been suicide attempts, she said, that led to their hospitalization. Children might have a brain injury while others were born with congenital defects. They may be up to 18 years of age or a little bit older. The older teenagers may be transferred to another area of care to continue the same type of care that is provided at Bethany Children’s Health Center.
Nurses begin their days by getting the children ready to go to their physical therapy or occupational therapy. Nurses provide their medication and monitor them throughout the day. Children attend school and are interactive at the rehabilitation hospital. Therapists read books and play music for the children. “We all share the love of what we do. It’s always seen in each one of us,” she said. “Even though we’re by ourselves or just working in a unit together we’re always hand-in-hand helping each other walk together with these kids. I think that’s what I really love about being here.”
She enjoys seeing children progress to a state where they’re walking and talking again or just being able to do a little bit more in life than conditions permitted when first coming to the rehab hospital.
“I think that is what’s always with me. It always makes me happy,” Simon said. “It’s like, ‘Wow this is amazing just to see that.’”
When nursing graduates consider working at the rehabilitation hospital and ask what it’s like, she tells them they will find pediatric care at Bethany Children’s Health Center is different from regular pediatrics.
“It goes back to a difference that you see here in our kids,” she said. “I think the biggest thing I always tell them is it’s a different environment, but just how amazing it is when you go from thinking there’s no hope, to there is hope. Seeing that is something you will see here.”
There’s a diligent process for the nurses and patients. So, a lot of compassion, love, care and patience are the main qualities needed for nurses serving the needs of the children and their parents, she said. Some of the children can speak while others have difficulty vocalizing. Body language tells a lot.
“For some of our long-term care — it’s just watching their facial expressions. You can tell when something is off when you work with them,” Simon said. “We also have kids with monitors they can talk through, so we teach them on their iPad that they can click on and tell you, ‘Hey, I want to go play today,’ or ‘Can I have a toy?’ They have those kinds of devices that work for a wide range of things.”
The children often leave appearing happy for accomplishing where they want to be in life, Simon said.
“I think some of the kids we’ve gotten close to, it’s hard for them as well when they’re going to miss their team,” she explained. “And they express that, too. I think it’s a mixed emotion for them, and for us because we saw their progress. But to know that we’ve worked with them for that long and they’re gone — that progress makes you kind of happy and sad at the same time.”
Simon is also active in other aspects of daily life. She loves spending leadership time with people when worshiping at Metropolitan Bible Chapel.
“I lead a youth group, so it’s mostly involved in that and family. And it’s great to work here and see how much effort we put in it and see God involved in the children’s progress, too,” Simon said.
For more information about Bethany Children’s Health Center, visit: