If you see a garden of blue pinwheels at Rapides Regional Medical Center this month, it’s not your imagination.  Rapides Regional Medical Center and Rapides Women’s and Children’s Hospital employees filled the gardens surrounding RWCH with blue pinwheels to call attention to child abuse in our community.

If you’re counting, you’ll see approximately 100 pinwheels. And while that may seem like a lot, keep in mind that more than 800 child abuse cases are investigated by Rapides Advocacy Center each year. And that’s just in Central Louisiana.

“There are times when those children end up in our hospital,” said Karen Z. Hathorn, RN, MSN, Rapides Women’s and Children’s Hospital director. “Those cases affect our pediatric staff. Many of them have children of their own, so it’s hard for them to see ANY child suffering from abuse.”

That’s why RWCH led the push this year to bring awareness to their corner of downtown Alexandria. The staff signed a banner reminding visitors that “We support Happy, Healthy Children.”  The banner is on display in the RWCH lobby.

Then, they decorated the flowerbeds surrounding RWCH with blue pinwheels – a symbol adopted by Child Abuse Awareness organizations across the country.

Families will also receive additional information about child abuse prevention and awareness in patient packets during each admission.

“Our goal is happy, healthy children,” Hathorn said. “Part of that is making sick or injured children well. But part of it is also offering education to parents and families so illness and injury can be prevented. It’s the same thing with child abuse awareness and prevention.”

Research shows that protective factors are present in healthy families. Those factors include:

  • Nurturing and attachment
  • Knowledge of parenting and child and youth development
  • Parental resilience
  • Social connections
  • Concrete support for parents
  • Social and emotional competence of children

“April is a time to celebrate the important role that communities play in protecting children and strengthening families,” said Natalie O’Quin, Communications Director of the Rapides Children’s Advocacy Center. “Everyone’s participation is critical. Focusing on ways to connect with families is the best thing our community can do to strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect.”

For more information, visit rapidesregional.com