Lauren Rower has always followed in her father’s footsteps. His namesake, Lauren worked for years at the family’s car dealership, Lewis Ford, and when her father, Lawrence “Larry” Lewis, passed away in 2009, she took up the mantle to carry on the legacy of her family’s philanthropic arm, the Lawrence Lewis Foundation.
A Le Bonheur Club member and avid champion for arts and education, Rower is a longtime supporter of the hospital. In early 2019, she helped establish a fund through her family’s foundation to support continuing education and conference opportunities for critical care nurses at Le Bonheur Children’s. This desire to help critical care nurses came from one of the hardest experiences in her life — an emergency blood transfusion.
“I was interested in helping critical care nurses from a personal experience in the emergency room,” said Rower. “One nurse stayed up with me for hours through the night giving me a blood transfusion through tubes by hand. She probably saved my life.”
Patients in the ICU need people caring for them who know exactly what they’re doing and won’t let anything fall through the cracks. With kids the stakes are that much higher, and it made sense to designate support for Le Bonheur Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurses to gain additional skills, meet new colleagues and stay up-to-date on the latest technologies, processes and ideas.
Rower’s stepdaughter, Katy, currently serves as the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) coordinator in Le Bonheur’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), and she highlighted the importance of critical care nurses honing their skills and expertise in conference settings.
“Patients in the ICU need people caring for them who know exactly what they’re doing and won’t let anything fall through the cracks,” said Lauren Rower. “With kids the stakes are that much higher, and it made sense to designate support for Le Bonheur Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurses to gain additional skills, meet new colleagues and stay up-to-date on the latest technologies, processes and ideas.”
In the fund’s inaugural year, eight PICU nurses attended conferences throughout the country thanks to the Lawrence Lewis Foundation. While in-person learning opportunities were primarily suspended in 2020, eight Le Bonheur nurses received grants to attend a virtual conference in May of this year, and plans are in place to support additional conference experiences this fall.
Brittany Dedwylder, a PICU nurse of nearly 15 years, represented Le Bonheur at the 2019 Johns Hopkins Critical Care Mobility Conference, which gave her new insights into the importance of early mobilization of critical care patients.
“A critical care committee now meets biweekly to apply knowledge from conferences into our daily care routines,” said Dedwylder. “I am so thankful for the Lawrence Lewis Foundation for making continuing nursing education possible.”
Donor support for conference education sends a message to bedside nurses that the community is vested in them and their role as a clinical nurse, and that we are all vested in ensuring positive patient outcomes both inside and outside the walls of Le Bonheur.
In addition to nurse education and gifts supporting critical care at Le Bonheur, the family foundation also sponsored the hospital’s book cart, staffed by volunteers and created to provide every patient with a new book. Rower, whose background is in education, has a demonstrated passion for literacy initiatives and seeks to further her family’s investment in educational opportunities for all.
“It’s so important for books to land in the hands of little people,” said Rower. “For many families, books are a luxury. Kids should have access to books when they need them, and now patients can choose a new book to read in the hospital and then take it home.”
Whether Le Bonheur families feel the support of Lawrence Lewis Foundation through the donation of a new book or the heightened expertise of critical care nursing, the hospital is grateful for the investment of families like Rower’s in educational opportunities for both patients and staff.
“As care of the pediatric patient becomes increasingly complex, it is essential that nurses continue to develop their skills,” said La-Kenya Kellum, director of Professional Practice and Nursing Excellence. “Donor support for conference education sends a message to bedside nurses that the community is vested in them and their work as a clinical nurse, and that we are all vested in ensuring positive patient outcomes both inside and outside the walls of Le Bonheur.”
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