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Caring for Quinn

Quinn Peters pulls up the leg of her shorts, pointing to a row of scars.

“Owie on my leg,” she says, giving her mother Cassidy a big kiss before bounding off to play with her older brothers and cousins.

The two-year-old with an infectious grin underneath two tiny blond pigtails doesn’t think much about the day that a SUV ran over her leg twice. But her family will never forget the care that Quinn got at Sanford Health Pediatric Trauma, her mother says.

“From the second we walked in the door, they cared for her like she was part of their family,” Cassidy says. “There wasn’t a moment that they didn’t care for her medical needs and her comfort too.”

An unexpected trauma

The little girl’s accident happened during a family camp-out the day before Father’s Day of 2011. The inquisitive toddler, who had just started to walk five months earlier, moved so fast that no one knows exactly what happened.

Quinn was playing by the camper where people were setting the table up for dinner. Her mother says she must have followed a family member to the vehicle, but he didn’t see her since she was so small.

Cassidy remembers the awful moment her husband saw the Chevy Equinox had driven over the little girl, just 16 months old. The frantic father ran over to the SUV, alerting the driver, but he had already backed over her right leg a second time, not realizing that he had hit her.

“My husband actually pulled the vehicle off of her and we wrapped her up in a sweatshirt. That was all I had right there,” said Cassidy, who was inside the camper during the accident.

The little girl didn’t scream or even cry at first. Her mother says hospital staff told her that Quinn was likely in shock. Her parents rushed her to the Sioux Falls emergency center, where she was immediately brought into an exam room.

Cassidy, an information technology employee at Sanford Health, had not had time yet to think about what happened to her daughter. But as she heard the announcement calling the pediatric trauma team to the room, she realized that her daughter’s situation was serious.

“I never thought that my child would be in need of the Trauma Team,” says Cassidy. “It brought the whole thing home to me.”

Healing her hurts

Over the next few hours, Sanford staff checked Quinn carefully to assess the damage to her little body. Pediatric surgeon Adela Casas-Melley and orthopedic surgeon C. Dustin Bechtold directed her care.

Fortunately, the vehicle had only damaged Quinn’s leg, breaking her femur in two places and making one break in the lower part of her leg. Throughout the next few days, as doctors realigned the bones and placed her in a pink and purple cast that went from her hip to her ankle, Quinn’s whole family was taken care of at Sanford Children’s Hospital.

Child life specialists worked with both the little girl and her big brothers, to help them deal with the hospitalization. Hospital staff brought a blanket and teddy bear for Quinn and a clean shirt for Cassidy. The family was provided with space to gather and staff never made them feel like they were to blame for her injuries.

“It was nothing short of amazing the way they worked together to take care of her medical needs and to comfort all of us as well,” she says.

Loving care

The mother tearfully remembers one moment, when she walked out of Quinn’s hospital room, needing to take a moment to breathe while her daughter’s wounds were being irrigated. When her husband returned, a Sanford employee was holding the little girl’s hand and talking to her, rubbing her forehead.

“At that moment, it was incredible to know that someone else would comfort her just as I would, and yet give me a moment to collect myself,” Cassidy said.

Quinn spent just four weeks in her cast, toddling around in it until the device was no longer needed. She has no long-term damage to her bones or growth plates. The only sign she has to remember that day will be some scarring on the surface of her skin.

“We feel very fortunate in so many ways,” said Cassidy. “The trauma team helped her heal and helped us heal. I just can’t say how thankful we are for everything.”

Posted Date: July 2012