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It's hard to imagine a worse moment for a minor shoulder injury to reassert itself. One Saturday night in March 2017, Little Rock Police Lieutenant Nathan Tackett was carrying a 44-quart pot full of boiling water to drain in a nearby ditch at a shrimp boil. Suddenly, Tackett's injured shoulder gave out. He dropped the pot. Boiling water splashed his arms and chest, leaving him with 2nd- and 3rd-degree burns.
Lt. Tackett's physician referred him to Arkansas Children's Hospital Burn Center right away. While you might be surprised to learn that Arkansas Children's Hospital is the comprehensive burn program in the state for adults and children, Tackett already knew the vital role ACH plays in healing burn patients of all ages.
"Law enforcement and first responders know people travel from all over for treatment at Arkansas Children's Hospital's Burn Center," he says. "I can't say enough about it."
Shortly after the initial incident, Tackett had skin graft surgery. He says the staff at Arkansas Children's Hospital was "very, very supportive. They were always attentive if I needed to talk to someone; always making sure I was doing okay."
Nurse Lauren Baxley is one of those staff members. "We love Nathan," she says, fondly. "He is a good patient.
"Our burn unit treats patients from 0 years old to over 108," she says. "We are the only place in the state with expertise in this kind of care."
Asked if being a children’s hospital equips the unit with extra TLC, she considers the question and reflects that, “there’s a lot of compassion that comes with taking care of kids, but our kids are brave!”
While adult patients are kept separate from pediatric patients, Baxley observes that adults can draw strength from the example of kids they see in the waiting area. "If we can treat even the smallest patients, we can certainly treat the biggest ones as well."
A year out from the injury, when scar tissue from the grafts started to interfere with his ability to shoulder a gun, Lt. Tackett began laser treatments in the Burn Center Wound Clinic to decrease thickening of the scars. He has had a total of four treatments, eight weeks apart. His will receive his final treatment in May.
While he looks forward to being finished with treatment, Lt. Tackett says he has enjoyed returning to see the same friendly faces he has come to know and trust throughout his treatment.
"They know who you are, and there's a sense of comfort that they know your history. I don't know how we'd function without a place like Arkansas Children's Hospital's Burn Center. I think they've got it perfected."
If you or someone you love needs medical care for severe burns, you can learn more about treatment options for adult burn patients in the Burn Program at Arkansas Children's Hospital by calling 501-364-1317 and selecting option 0.