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Giving Thanks for Beebe

Noah Barbrow is a gregarious and energetic 7-year-old boy with a mop of dirty blonde hair and a face full of freckles. This past week, Noah began his Thanksgiving break by sitting quietly around a table of doctors and nurses, smiling widely as they reminisced together about his first stay in the hospital.

For most of the summer, Noah spent his days outside running, swinging, swimming and playing. But in mid-August, Noah suddenly lost his appetite and youthful energy. He began vomiting and having excessive diarrhea.

Karen and Jeremy Barbrow were concerned and took him to see their primary care physician. "We knew he wasn't feeling well," Karen said. "But at first we just assumed it was a nasty bug." Initial tests and exams failed to prove anything to the contrary. "The longer it went on, though, the more concerned we became."

Unable to keep food or even liquids down, Noah lost eight pounds in eight days - over 10 percent of his body weight. He became dehydrated and showed no sign of improvement.

"We finally decided to take him to the ER," said Jeremy. "We didn't know what else to do." Despite it being a busy season in the emergency room, the Barbrows were seen quickly by hospital staff and Noah was given fluids, a bed, and a thorough examination.

Noah was admitted to the hospital for continued monitoring and further testing. "We were relieved, actually, to know that we'd be staying," said Jeremy, "It was like a sign that the staff was determined to find out what was wrong with our son."

Jeremy remained with Noah during the two days he was in the hospital. The staff was just as committed to Noah's care as his father. The nurses, technicians, and volunteers worked tirelessly and graciously to provide Noah with the best care possible. Dr. Meredith Luckenbaugh was the board-certified pediatrician assigned to Noah's case. "I could tell they were desperate for an answer, for relief," she said. "I wanted to make sure we gave that to them as soon as possible."

Test results came back positive for cryptosporidium, a waterborne parasite. According to the Centers for Disease Control, "crypto," as it is commonly called, is "a leading cause of waterborne disease among humans in the United States."

"There was no way to know exactly when or where the parasite was contracted," said Luckenbaugh, "But once we knew it was a parasite, we could move forward toward recovery." Luckenbaugh prescribed nitazoxanide, and Noah quickly improved.

"You could see it in his eyes," said nurse Dani Legates. "He was asking for food! I knew he was feeling better."

Noah remained in the hospital for several hours more for observation before being discharged. He regained his appetite and soon returned to his energetic self. He quickly gained back the weight he had lost and was able to start second grade on time, just two weeks after being admitted.

The experience has left a strangely positive effect on Noah. "I loved being in the hospital," he said. "I wish I could go back!" After months of youthful health, Noah has little recollection of his actual illness, seemingly overshadowed by the allure of the hospital's adjustable bed, unlimited milk cartons and cable TV.

But the Barbrows will never forget the care Noah received from the staff of Beebe Healthcare. And, they wanted be sure to express their gratitude to Noah's doctor and nurses in person through the Beebe Medical Foundation's Celebrate Excellent Care Program, which helps grateful patients say thank you with a gift. "As we reflected on this past year, we couldn't help but remember the people who helped us through that very difficult time," said Jeremy. "Thanksgiving seemed like the perfect opportunity to say thank you."

Tom Protack, vice president of development for Beebe Medical Foundation, added, "All year long we receive donations and gifts from grateful patients, but during the holiday giving season it naturally increases as patients and their families are grateful for the gift of one another during this special time of year."

The Barbrows contacted the hospital and were referred to the Beebe Medical Foundation, which arranged a luncheon for the family and hospital staff. Luckenbaugh and nurses Legates and Brooke Talbot were treated to balloons, construction paper cards, and cheese pizza as well as jokes, smiles and hugs from their former patient and his family.

"It's so nice to know you're appreciated," said Luckenbaugh. "We love our job and every one of our patients. But hearing someone say 'well done' is humbling and so very special."

Noah often talks about his wonderful time at Beebe. If you tell him that you or a loved one has recently been admitted, he will exclaim that he loves the hospital with a sentimental, almost envious tone. You see, after four months of health, Noah has little recollection of the parasite that forced him to go to the hospital. He, like his parents, will never forget the care he received from Luckenbaugh, nurses Legates and Talbot, and the rest of the Beebe staff. And this Thanksgiving, he wants to make sure they never forget how grateful he and his family are for being there when he needed them most.

To make a gift in honor of a Beebe Team member through the Celebrate Excellent Care program, call the Beebe Medical Foundation at (302) 644-2900 or go to beebemedicalfoundation.org for more information. The Beebe Medical Foundation raises funds for Beebe Healthcare, the nonprofit community healthcare system. Consider making a gift today. All donations are tax-deductible.

Shown: Noah Barbrow celebrates excellent care with (l-r) Dr. Meredith Luckenbaugh and nurses Brooke Talbot and Dani Legates.