PITTSBURG — It was the care Evan Greenwell received at Children’s Mercy Kansas City which inspired him to become a nurse with dreams of working in the hospital’s burn unit.
Although Greenwell was not hired directly into the burn unit, he was hired to be a nurse at Children’s Mercy in Overland Park.
Greenwell, a nursing student from Tonganoxie, was a 13 years old on summer break when he caught fire after gasoline was poured on a nearby brush pile.
“We made a runner to throw the match out, but we must have waited too long and the fumes spread around, and by the time I struck it the fire caught,” he said.
He stood there and couldn’t feel the fire at first, his father quickly began the process of extinguishing the fire then his parents promptly drove him to a hospital in Lawrence.
Halfway there, then it “hit.” Ouch.
“I’ve broken bones, torn ACL’s, all of that accumulated together didn’t even compare,” he said.
Once he was stabilized following the accident, he was then taken by ambulance to Children’s Mercy where he stayed for a week.
The accident left Greenwell with red puffy burns across his face and on the majority of his left arm. He underwent debridement which is a painful process in which dead, damaged, and infected tissue is removed to improve the healing potential of the remaining healthy tissue.
It was the nurses’ ability to understand what families needed past the medical perspective that left an impact on him, he said.
“The nurses there, everything people say about Children’s Mercy is true,” Greenwell said. “They are just phenomenal and the nurses really care, not only about you but they care about your family.
“When you’re treating kids, their parents are just as much involved.”
It was the small things, such as bringing in a laptop for him to play with because he couldn’t go to the playroom because of the risk of infection.
They also seemed to know just what his family needed, from food to where to stay. He also applauded the Ronald McDonald House, another service which Greenwell said helped his family.
When he got into high school, it was time to start thinking about what to do when he grew up. He looked back on his accident and Children’s Mercy.
“I looked back and I just wanted a chance to be able to give back to people, the same care I received when I needed it the most,” Greenwell said.
After studying gerontology, pediatrics, obstetrics and more, along with several hours of studying — pages and pages of highlighted and color coordinated notes — he has finally reached the end of his college career.
On Friday his mother, Kristin Greenwell, had the honor of pinning him during the Nurse Pinning Ceremony in the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts and later that evening he graduated with his peers during the 2019 PSU Commencement Ceremony with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Greenwell gave credit to his professors who he said wanted all of their students to succeed and to fulfill their goals — just like him.