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Nurse provides comfort for little
David Wendorf, R.N., is a giant of a man who enjoys comforting some of
the little patients terrified of the strange, sterile environment of
David Wendorf walks
1-year-old James to sleep before his six-hour double cochlear implant
As coordinator of ophthalmology, general and pediatrics for ambulatory
surgery, Wendorf's work involves a quicker pace compared to when he
worked in the main hospital operating room (OR). Despite the pace,
interacting with patients is easier.
“Here we are located so close to holding and recovery that we get to
talk more with the patients and their families,” Wendorf said. “This
job affords me the time to see the people. In the main OR, you would
meet the patients before they were sedated, which made them groggy, so
you would never get to know them. Here, it’s a little more personable
as the cases are usually not always so long or complex.”
His wife, Kate, is a certified registered nurse anesthetist in
Ambulatory Surgery. The two have become a comfort team for children.
“Kate will call me over if she finds somebody who likes trains or cars;
because she knows I’ll get a kick out of watching the children playing
with a little John Deer tractor or Thomas the Tank engine we had
brought in,” he said.
The children sense Wendorf’s good nature and they often seek his
One recent day, Ashley and Adam Morris brought in 1-year-old James, who
was born profoundly hearing impaired. The baby was facing bilateral
cochlear implants, which would involve surgically implanting devices
behind each ear to enable the child to hear.
The baby was frightened and tired on that early April morning. The
parents seemed even more anxious, Wendorf observed, and the mother
acknowledged their fear.
“Before the surgery, I was pacing the floor,” Mrs. Morris said. “So,
one of the nurses asked if she could hold James. Several nurses were
sharing him, holding him; and when one set him down, James reached up
to David [Wendorf], and David picked him up.”
Wendorf said he comforted the child as much for the parents’ sake as
“The child’s family was Navy, so I bonded, because I had been in the
Navy,” Wendorf said. “And I could see the dad was having a hard time.”
Wendorf kept the child calm and carried him around until he fell asleep
in his arms. Wendorf eventually carried the child into the OR where he
set him down on the table.
“The baby cried a little bit, but crying can help the sleeping agent
work, and the babies go to sleep faster,” Wendorf said. “It’s easier
for babies in the hospital. It’s not as traumatic as it is for the
Holding the little boy evoked memories for Wendorf when he was a young
father stationed onboard the USS Nicholson at the Naval Base in
“I was aboard the ship and I got a call that my son had fallen off a
chair and cut his chin open,” Wendorf said. “I remember rushing home to
get him and taking him back to the Navy hospital. I was holding my son
in my arms. He’s now 22, a giant in his own right, and taller than me,
“But then, I was holding my little son in the emergency room when they
asked me to assist. I had to hold him down while they stitched up his
chin,” Wendorf said.
After the procedure, the young father was walking past a nurse.
“Petty Officer Wendorf, are you OK?” she asked. “I said, ‘yeah, sure,
uh-huh.’ And she said, ‘No you’re not,’ as she had me lay down on a
stretcher, I was so white.
“I always remember that, and what it feels like to be a parent when
your child’s being operated on,” Wendorf said.
A few days after James endured a six-hour double cochlear implant
procedure, Wendorf received a photograph and a note:
“My husband and I would like to thank you for your generosity today.
You really helped ease the tension off James’ surgery. You and your
wife are such wonderful people, and I wanted to thank you both for
everything,” signed Adam and Ashley Morris.
James plays with
his new puppy, Scamp.
Later this month, James will have the implants activated, which will
enable the child to hear as well as anyone, “except it will be like
hearing a TV,” his mother said. And soon, the boy will be able to enjoy
the sound of his new puppy, Scamp; and the sound of his father’s voice
when he calls from duty out to sea.
Friday, May 2, 2008
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