Growing with love and skill – Children’s Center and Rehabilitation Hospital prepares for expansion
by James Coburn, Staff Writer
Anna Lawson loves the new construction at the Children’s Center and Rehabilitation Hospital. She takes joy in working with children as a licensed practical nurse in Bethany.
“It is so exciting to see that we are expanding again,” Lawson said. “I was here when we expanded for the rehab.”
The complex will be a four-story addition that will be connected to the existing facility, said Danielle Dunn, hospital spokeswoman. A covered and enclosed walkway will connect the two facilities.
“It’s going to be a 100,000-square-foot building,” Dunn said.
The Children’s Center is the only in-patient pediatric rehabilitation facility in Oklahoma. Families will travel great distances for their loved one to received care at the hospital.
There will be two patient floors, a centralized patient services area and an outpatient clinic. The current hospital is licensed for 120 beds. Forty new beds will be in the new building to allow the Children’s Center to care for one-third more patients.
“We’re really excited because we’re going to have a patient center for training and education,” Dunn said.
So far the construction of the new facility has been great. There have not been any big storms or weather issues to slow the construction process, she said. The big thing being worked on right now is setting the windows so that the work inside can be done even during the rain. The front area of the addition curves with glass.
“I think we’re hoping to have the completion in the fall of 2017,” Dunn said.
There is a lot of color and light within the Children’s Center, Lawson said. It simply makes you feel good to be inside the complex. Lawson said it’s good for the patients, too.
“To be able to work with kids to me is awesome,” Lawson said.
A lot of the children cannot do basic things most people take for granted. They may not be able to walk and need help using the restroom, Lawson said.
“They can still smile,” Lawson said. “They still enjoy seeing us. It brightens my day knowing when I come in a kid has their arm up in the air waving at you and laughing. They’re kids.”
If they’re in diapers and are wet, Lawson helps to change them. Some of them have had a tracheotomy and need trach care, she said. They have been in accidents or were born with birth defects.
“They can cough but they can’t always get out the secretions they produce and we help with that,” she said.
Lawson provides educational resources to the children’s parents, some who are very involved with the care at the Children’s Center, and others who live farther away from the center but will call a lot to see how their child is doing.
“I also help the families by teaching CPR occasionally,” she said.
The Children’s Center is a patient center rehabilitation hospital, she said, that focuses on what the children need.
Lawson will celebrate her ninth year as a nurse in November. She earned her LPN credential at Canadian Valley Technology Center and has been with the Children’s Center for 16 years.
“I was always a natural caregiver. I’ve always had a big drive to help with anything,” she said. “If you need something and I can’t help, I’ll find someone who can.”
Originally, Lawson wanted to become a veterinarian until she figured out how they checked pregnant cows.
“I said I’m not doing that,” she explained.
Her parents encouraged her to become a nurse. She began working in the kitchen at the Children’s Center. But she didn’t want to further her education by being a dietitian.
“Seeing the kids and seeing other people work with them — I wanted to be close to that,” she said.
Lawson became a CNA and worked her way through nursing school. Then she made a seamless transition back at the Children’s Center as an LPN. Nursing has been good to Lawson, but it is also hard work. But she enjoys it.
“You’ve got to have a big heart because you’ve got to be able to give a kid a shot,” she said.
Today, she is continuing her education by taking prerequisite classes to be a registered nurse.
During her days off from work, Lawson said she is a bit of a craft nut. She does everything from sewing to knitting. She and her husband have a couple of dogs who act like toddlers, she said.
“The basset hound, if he hasn’t had enough cuddle time he will whine until you go and sit with him,” she said.