Children, by nature, are usually reluctant to enter a doctor’s office – especially when they
spot the doctor’s medical tools. “The challenge you face with tools: They’re scary!” says Dr. Samuel Byrd at Deaconess Clinic – Oak Hill. But with creativity and compassion, Dr. Byrd and his nurse, Debra Gress, met this challenge head-on.
A local daycare supervisor called their office to let them know a three-year-old patient of Dr. Byrd’s had jammed an unpopped kernel of popcorn up her nose. Daycare staff was uncomfortable trying to remove it, so they had called her grandmother to take her to her doctor. To relieve the little girl’s fear, her daycare provider promised her the doctor would use a “magic wand” to get the kernel out.
“We didn’t have a choice. We had to do something,” says Debra, and Dr. Byrd remembers thinking, “We have…sterile equipment. What are we going to come up with?”
Thinking quickly, Debra went to the staff lounge, where Easter baskets from pharmaceutical representatives covered the table. She cut pastel ribbons off a basket, wrapped a white plastic ear curette in aluminum foil, and taped the ribbons on one end. Once the three-year-old arrived with her grandmother, she relaxed when she saw the “magic wand” and didn’t cry or fight with the doctor as he removed the popcorn kernel. “I don’t think she was so scared about it being painful,” Dr. Byrd says. “We were trying to make her feel comfortable.”
The “magical” surgical instrument enchanted both the little girl and her grandmother: The girl kept the wand and took it to daycare the next day for show-and-tell, and her grandmother hurried out to the car to get her camera and snap pictures as Dr. Byrd used the “magic wand” to remove the popcorn kernel. A few days later, she mailed several pictures to the doctor with a thank-you card. “Thank you for going the extra mile,” she wrote. “You made my day and a little girl’s day who believes in magic wands.”