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Chloe's Bad Break

Injury spotlights St. Louis Shriners Hospital staff ability to treat the routine along with the rare

Chloe knew something was wrong in the first few moments after she surfaced in the middle of the Lake of the Ozarks.

Seconds before, the 16-year-old Wentzville, Missouri, girl had been thrown from a tube dragged by a speed boat. She looked at her left arm, floating in the water, and willed it to move.

Nothing. She concentrated harder. Still nothing.

The X-rays from her Labor Day weekend misadventure would tell the story: The humerus – the long bone that runs from shoulder to elbow – had broken clean through. A web of tiny fractures splintered out along both parts of the two sections.

While Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis has built its reputation since it opened in 1924 on treating rare and medically complex conditions, it also has a broader focus that includes more routine injuries like Chloe’s.

“It helps us provide a wider expanse of care,” said Lindley Wall, M.D., who performed Chloe’s surgery a week after the accident, inserting 13 screws and stabilizing plates to bring the bone back together. “It’s nice to have open doors to trauma surgeries because it provides better overall service to the community.”

That is a message St. Louis Shriners Hospital leaders want the public to hear: Yes, we’re here for the rare, but we’re also here for the routine. It’s a message Chloe’s stepmother, Janet, had heard many times before.

“I think a lot of people in the community don’t know that they can get the best, state-of-the-art care for things like what happened to Chloe from physicians who are known throughout the country,” said Janet, who worked for the hospital for 12 years before a recent promotion to a remote position with the national headquarters in Tampa, Florida. “It was really a no-brainer to bring her here.”

Chloe said the reputation of the hospital and its physicians in treating rare conditions calmed her as her surgery drew near.

“For them, my type of surgery isn’t a huge deal. They’ve done these crazy, involved surgeries. They’ve seen a lot worse,” she said. “What I had was routine for them. That made me feel a lot more comfortable.”

Six weeks after her surgery, Chloe returned to the hospital for a follow-up visit. Radiology technicians took updated X-rays, which showed the bone was healing well. Dr. Wall looked at the nearly foot-long incision scar and checked the arm’s range of motion. Members of the physical therapy team joined the growing crowd in the room to get updated instructions on what treatment to give Chloe when she returned a few days later.

Chloe, however, had one question that would be top-of-mind for most 16-year-olds. “Can I drive?” she asked.

“Are you taking any painkillers?”

“No,” the hopeful teenager responded.

Dr. Wall’s eyes showed the smile beneath her mask: “Drive away.”

Chloe in hospital with another staff member

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