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Former Porter patient rolls out Kids’ Kart

MIDDLEBURY — Future young patients at Porter Hospital will owe a debt of gratitude to 11-year-old Jamee Barnum, who recently turned 10 days of post-operative boredom into a quest to provide entertainment options for other recuperating kids.
It was back in late March that the New Haven resident took ill — while eating her own birthday cake, no less. Her parents took her to Porter Hospital, where she received a disturbing diagnosis: Her appendix had ruptured, requiring speedy surgery.
Jamee’s treatment required her to stay in the hospital for 10 days, during which she found herself largely confined to her room, outfitted with a feeding tube and an I.V. She underwent many blood tests and could not eat solid foods for quite a while.
She received plenty of visits from family and friends, but there were long stretches of tedium that she couldn’t always fill with television and books. It was during this boredom that she got inspired to ease the load for future patients her age.
“I thought there was something I could offer them,” Jamee said on Thursday, when she presented Porter Hospital with its first ever “Kids’ Kart.”
The Kids’ Kart is full of stuffed animals, toys, a portable DVD player, movies, books, goody bags, coloring books, crayons, puzzles and other diversions for pre-teens. Jamee and her family raised more than $300 to stock the cart, which will be based at the nurse’s station for loan to young patients or visitors who find themselves confined to the hospital for long stays.
Approximately $160 of the proceeds came from a family bottle drive. Employees of Elderly Services (where Jamee’s mom, Alice, works as a driver) and the National Bank of Middlebury (where Jamee’s older sister Mallory works) also contributed to the total.
Word of Jamee’s illness and subsequent Kids’ Kart effort spread through Beeman Elementary School, where Jamee will enter sixth grade this fall. Students of all ages lent a hand making pillows and other items for the cart.
“I’m proud of her,” Alice Barnum said of her daughter. “And she was a real trooper while she was here.”
Jamee’s mom said she hopes the availability of the Kids’ Kart might also provide an extra incentive for children to muster up enough courage to get a necessary shot or I.V. placement.
Porter Hospital officials were ecstatic to receive the donation on Thursday.
“This is wonderful,” Porter Nurse Manager Roe Provetto said while embracing Jamee. “I couldn’t have asked for a better patient.”
Porter Hospital Spokesman Ron Hallman was also impressed with Jamee’s charitable gesture.
“It’s very heartwarming when a young person goes out and on their own initiative, raises funds for resources to help other young patients,” Hallman said. “It is a feel-good story about someone who is helping people she might never even know.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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