A classic game gives pediatric patients a place to play

In December 2017, the Parkview Foundation received an email from Molly Gerke, child life specialist, about a Pac-Man machine donation. Yvonne MacLachlan, a mother of a former pediatric patient at Parkview Regional Medical Center, had contacted Molly asking how she could give back after an unexpected situation brought their family to Parkview.

The MacLachlan family, first and foremost, wants to praise God for bringing them through this experience that forever changed their lives and strengthened their faith. On Friday, July 29, 2016 they were living in Edwardsburg, Michigan, and were traveling to visit family in Anderson, Indiana. “It was a sunny, clear day, so instead of traveling our usual route down US31, we decided to travel through northeast Indiana and take in the beautiful scenery. We were heading south on SR 5 when a semi-truck turned in front of us. In a split second, our Equinox hit it head on,” Yvonne recalled.

Bruce, Yvonne’s husband, broke his neck and Rowan, their oldest daughter ─ age 8 at the time and too big for a booster seat ─ was tossed to the floor board tangled in her seat belt. The lap portion of the seat belt lacerated her lower abdomen and Yvonne removed the seat belt, placed her on the bench seat and waited until the paramedics arrived. The MacLachlan’s youngest daughter, 6-year-old Elowyn, was in a five-point high back booster seat when the accident occurred. Thankfully she received only slight friction rub burns and bruising where the straps held her in her seat.

Bruce and Rowan were airlifted to Parkview Regional Medical Center (PRMC) in Fort Wayne. “May God forever bless the Samaritan crew as they worked the weight and balances to get both of them on the same chopper,” Yvonne said. Upon arrival in Fort Wayne, Bruce and Rowan were separated and Elowyn and Yvonne had since been transported in separate ambulances to Parkview LaGrange Hospital. Yvonne contacted family members who arrived at Parkview LaGrange and then had herself and Elowyn transported to PRMC. When they arrived, Bruce was in triage and Rowan was in the middle of a five-hour surgery. Eventually, Bruce had surgery on his C2 vertebrae and was released on Monday, August 1, 2016. Rowan was placed in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) for the next two weeks and then was transferred to the pediatric department for the remainder of her stay.

Rowan’s injuries were so serious that she required a total of three surgeries. She had broken ribs, a broken sternum, collapsed lungs, and had a foot of her colon removed. In addition, this 8-year-old girl had two blood transfusions, was intubated three times and used a wound vac machine for almost two months.

Yvonne was directed to the Ronald McDonald House for a room and a shower as her right leg had been injured due to the airbag explosion. When she returned to Rowan's room, a bed had been made up for her with a mug of ice water on the table. “That was the first experience of many that demonstrated how absolutely caring the Parkview staff was”, Yvonne said. “The X-ray techs, at one point, covered me with a lead blanket so I didn't have to be woken up to leave Rowan's room when they took her x-rays.”

The MacLachlans stayed at Parkview for almost five weeks. While there, Rowan mostly watched TV and enjoyed playing Sequence in the family room, but did not find much interest in the children's playroom. She loved the Parkview Foundation funded program, Healing Arts, where an artist came to her room and created art with her. But just like Rowan, every child has their own tastes, likes and dislikes. All things can be fun up until a certain point, and Rowan was growing tired of having the same items to entertain her.

“We are firm believers in paying it forward and believe that God puts us in positions and brings things to our attention so we can bless others as he has blessed us. So, upon leaving Parkview we were brainstorming on what we could do to leave a little ray of sunshine there for any future patients like Rowan. We left on August 29, 2016, so we had time to think about what would be fun ─ our girls play computer games now and Bruce and I thought about our youth. Bruce played arcade games, I played Atari games. And then divine inspiration prompted us to look for something like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong or Frogger, the classics that never go out of style,” Yvonne said.

In honor of the amazing treatment they received and to help future patients like Rowan, the MacLachlans decided to donate an arcade game. Thanks to their selfless contribution, a Pac-Man classic arcade game was placed in the pediatric unit for hours of entertainment.

“We have never felt so cared for as we did with the PICU and PEDS departments. Words and even this small gift are not enough to express the gratitude we feel toward Parkview. We hope that the arcade gaming unit will provide a happy distraction for those tweens to teens as well as their visiting family members. We certainly hope that it blesses everyone who plays it!”

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