Getting a Good Start



Holding her one-year-old foster son in her arms, Peggy Anderson arrived at Sanford Children’s Hospital two months ago expecting a few complications.

The little boy, Baby E., who had come to her home just before his first birthday, had plenty of challenges already in his short life. He was >born prematurely, had been treated in the neonatal intensive care unit for months for severely displaced hips and had undergone surgery to repair intestines that had grown outside of his body.

“There was no way for me to even know hardly any of his medical history,” said Peggy, sitting on a bench outside the Children’s Hospital. “When you’re a foster parent, this kind of thing just doesn’t always go smoothly.”

But the receptionist greeted her with a warm smile, quickly getting Peggy and the squirmy infant into the right office. As the appointment continued, the long-time foster mother was amazed to watch as the tiny boy went directly from physical therapy to an appointment with a specialist. She left from her first appointment at the Children’s Castle with a printout of future appointments in hand.

“Everything was done from the start to make things easier and more pleasant for us,” Peggy says with a smile. “I felt absolutely wonderful walking out.”

Love for children

The Dell Rapids woman and her husband Rod are no strangers to either foster care or medical offices. Since starting as foster parents in 1996, the family has adopted six foster children, ranging in age from 19 to 9. In June, they welcomed Baby E. and his two and a half-year-old brother into their home.

“Over the years, our family has really grown in stages,” Peggy said. “It wasn’t a hard decision to open our doors to kids that need a home.”

Several of their older children had medical difficulties, including their 16-year-old son, who was born with spina bifida. However, those problems paled when compared to Baby E., who was visiting specialists two to three times a week during his first six weeks in the Anderson home.

“For all of his problems, he’s just a little sweetheart,” Peggy said. “He’s a happy little boy with a deep, deep laugh.”

As Peggy brought Baby E to specialists, including a cardiologist, pulmonologist, ear nose and throat doctor and orthopedics physician, she could see that he was struggling. He fought to maintain a healthy body weight and suffered from extreme acid reflux problems.

Finding the answers

During one of his appointments with Dr. Deb Hickman, a pediatric pulmonologist, the family discovered that he the little boy was suffering from pulmonary aspiration, breathing liquid into his lungs, every time he drank or ate.

By simply thickening his formula and other liquids so they couldn’t be inhaled, they were able to drastically improve his health in just weeks. The little boy who had been taking up to seven medications no longer suffers from reflux issues and is down to just two prescriptions.

“You can tell he’s feeling better already,” Peggy said. “Every child deserves a good start and it’s so fun to see him growing and developing.”

A baby thriving

At the Anderson house, Baby E. is already beloved by all the older children, who snuggle and play with him, bouncing him and reading to him. Peggy says the whole family appreciates the care that the little boy has gotten from Sanford.

“Sometimes I have to insist on getting to hold him for a while,” Peggy says. “He’s such an easy boy to love.”

As the little infant grows, he’ll need fewer doctors’ visits. However, every time she’s walked through the Castle doors, Peggy has been pleased to find out that Baby E. and her family have been treated with the warmth and respect that they encountered on their first visit.

“My experience has been the same every time,” Peggy says, watching a little child splash in the fountain. “Everyone here is so committed to children. You can tell it with everything they do.”

Posted Date: August 2011

Getting a Good Start

Foster parent Peggy Anderson didn’t expect doctors’ visits to be easy for a one-year-old boy with a number of health challenges. Her family experienced warm, friendly care that has allowed the boy to heal and grow.