Pediatric unit grand opening honors girl

Almost six years ago Tammy and Brian Canady lost their 8-year-old daughter Samantha to what initially seemed like a mild cough but turned into croup, a respiratory infection that can cause a harsh, barking-like cough.
On Tuesday, Tammy Canady, along with a number of well-wishers and Medical Center Hospital officials, was on hand to commemorate the grand opening of the Samantha Canady Center for Pediatric Care, which is geared toward providing immediate, advanced medical care for children in the Permian Basin. The unit becomes active on Friday.
“It is absolutely beautiful,” Tammy Canady said following a ribbon cutting ceremony of the $2.9 million renovation project that was named after her daughter. “Seeing my baby throughout the unit, we were just absolutely amazed… It’s gorgeous.”
MCH Chief Executive Officer Bill Webster said the new pediatric unit on MCH’s fifth floor has 19 beds, with two of them capable of telemetry, or constant electronic monitoring, and a telemedicine component that allows for online contact with other pediatric hospitals. The unit also has an isolation room for patients and sleeping quarters for on-call pediatricians to stay, Webster said.
Webster praised Canady for turning her personal tragedy into something beneficial for the community by spearheading a tireless six-year effort to make the renovated pediatric unit a reality. The Canady family committed to raising $500,000 for the project with the remaining amount to be provided by MCH Foundation purely by philanthropic donations, he said.
“We’re really excited to open this unit this Friday, taking the initiative to improving pediatric service,” Webster said.
The MCH Foundation is still open to accepting donations to hopefully cover a phase two project that would entail “a full pediatric intensive care unit” like the one Lubbock has, Bridgette Meyers, MCH Foundation executive director, said.
“That would be the dream,” she said. All donations are appreciated, Meyers added. “Nothing is too small, or too big.”
Among the renovations of the current unit included the introduction of telemedicine, officials said. The technology allows MCH physicians to contact physicians at Covenant Children’s Hospital in Lubbock about how to first stabilize the patient before flying them out, officials said.
Samantha’s passing fueled her mother’s efforts to pursue the pediatric unit’s upgrade so as to spare other families the anguish of losing a child and to heighten the importance of intermediate pediatric care in the Permian Basin, Tammy Canady said.
Asked what the source of Canady’s strength was to make the unit happen, she answered “it was Samantha. I needed a reason to live.”
Samantha died Feb. 2, 2011, after being brought to the MCH emergency room and then later sent to a hospital in San Antonio in inclement weather. At the time there was not a pediatric care unit in the Permian Basin that could’ve given Samantha the kind of care she needed to have survived.
Every day was a struggle to carry on, given the constant “reminders” of Samantha everywhere like her love of drag racing and her dog named “Paris,” but Canady still pushed on, she said.
Canady was given a plaque with a picture of Samantha that came with an inscription from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” that read: “Though she be but little, she is fierce.”
Images of cityscapes adorn the hallways of the unit along with the names of corporate and individual donors on them. Webster explained the scenery was aimed at making the unit “child friendly” but Tammy Canady suggested that Samantha, a second-grade student at Midland Classical Academy, would’ve been delighted by what was done in her memory.
“I think she would be just tickled that she’s helping other children,” Canady said of what her daughter’s reaction would have been. “She loved life.”