Abused baby finds comfort with Salem Health nurse

"It's always tough to see abuse," said Linda Frey, RN, a pediatrics nurse at Salem Health in Salem, Oregon. "Anytime you see a kid, it makes you want to cry."

Frey has worked at the hospital for more than 30 years.

"We were getting a patient from the emergency department with probable abuse," Frey said. "I was the first to just hold and cuddle him when he first came in. He was a thin little guy that had bruising on his face. He had a big lump on his head. He also had abrasions on the back of his head and swelling."

Frey said the baby had obvious finger marks across his face, plus on a swollen thigh.

"We had to look at this child from all different angles and measure all the bruises and stuff. He had quite a few bruises on him," Frey said. "I picked him up and he acted like he was really hurt. I said I think there is something wrong with his leg."

An x-ray revealed the baby had a fractured leg.

"This little guy, he became pretty attached to me. I think it's mainly because I was the first one holding him, taking care of him, and being the safe one to him, not doing any procedures or testing on him," Frey said.

Frey noticed the baby would only take a bottle.

"For his age, he should have been eating regular foods and stuff," Frey said. "We started out with a cracker. He didn't even know what to do with a cracker. Then we'd put a little piece in his mouth and he’d chew it up a little bit. Then he learned to kind of eat over the next three or four days."

Frey said the baby spent several days in the hospital before he was turned over to the care of a foster family. Before that happened, Frey came to work one day with several bags filled with new baby clothes.

"He needed some clothes. He was going into foster care," Frey said. "I had the means, it was there. I thought great! I had a great time shopping. It was fun to get it for him. Just something that would make his life a little bit easier is an easy thing for me to do. I think that any seasoned nurse or even any new nurse that has that compassion... it's just a normal thing for a nurse to do. That's what we do. We care, we nurture, we try to do our best and help in any way that we can."

Frey bumped into the baby's foster parent a few months later.

"He was doing great which makes me feel good,” Frey said. “And I know he's going to be okay. He was a great little kid that needed just a little bit of attention and love.”

Salem Health offers emergency room (ER) services 24 hours a day, every day, at its hospitals in Salem (890 Oak St. SE) and Dallas (525 SE Washington St.).

The ER in Salem is a level II trauma center, which offers immediate coverage by general surgeons—as well as coverage by the specialties of orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology and critical care. 

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