Kerry Braucher knew about Akron Children’s Hospital long before she ever worked here.
“As a little girl I heard many stories about the hospital because my dad had been a patient here when he was a teen,” said Kerry, a registered nurse on Akron Children’s inpatient psychiatric unit.
Her dad, Dale, spent the summer of 1948 at Akron Children’s after contracting polio during a major outbreak that hospitalized more than 400 local children that summer and fall.
“During his stay, dad had a roommate who was maybe 3 or 4 years old at the time,” Kerry said. “The little boy received a ‘get well’ card from his aunt that contained a quarter. The boy put the quarter in his mouth and started choking on it. My dad, who was a trained lifeguard, did the Heimlich on him and was able to dislodge the quarter – probably saving the boy’s life. My dad was always very proud of that story.”
While he survived the disease, Dale had some permanent scars – both physical and emotional.
“He had paralysis on his left side, which necessitated lots of physical therapy during adolescence,” said Kerry. “He wanted to go into the military but couldn’t because of some of his physical impairments. He had a slight limp and his left leg was smaller than his right. His teenage years were hard, but he was lucky considering what a lot of people suffered.”
One of the memories that stuck with Kerry is her dad’s insistence that none of his kids or grandkids be given change due to that choking episode. She also learned not to complain about what was being served for dinner.
“If we ever complained about what we were eating we heard about how he had to eat baby food while he was a patient at the hospital,” she said.
Kerry remembers her dad, who died of heart issues in 2007, as her reason for pursuing a career in nursing.
“If we found a hurt animal or a bird with a broken wing we were always allowed to bring it home and nurse it back to health,” she said. “Even though he couldn’t serve in the military, he found other ways to serve. He spent 23 years as a volunteer firefighter in New Franklin Township. He was my inspiration.”
As part of our year-long anniversary celebration, we’re telling the story of Akron Children’s through the eyes of past and present employees, doctors, donors, volunteers and patient families. We encourage you to share your own memories and stories about us.
About Kathy Johnson
Kathy Johnson is a freelance writer, editor and public relations consultant with nearly 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry.