Pirates take Essentia children's hospital by stormBrothers playing pirates cheer young patients stuck in the hospital at holidays.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
Pirates came on Friday, dispensing treasures and corny jokes to hospitalized children in Duluth.
“How’d you lose your eye?” asked Don Hoyt in the role of the commandant of a fleet from 1812.
Then, pretending to rub his eye with a hook, he answered his own question: “That happened the day after I got this hand.”
Hoyt and his brother Kevin Hoyt — in the role of a pirate captain — visited Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital with Scott Mitchen, director of International Explorations in Ashland.
Their audience at the moment consisted of Marissa Latvala, 16, and her best friend Mataya Serfling, both of Deer River. Mataya, snuggled up in the hospital bed with her friend, had made the trip to Duluth with her mom to visit Marissa, who had been brought by ambulance to the hospital on Tuesday morning.
The mock pirates and Mitchen, who wheeled around a cart filled with artifacts and gifts, sought to relieve the tedium and disappointment that comes with being stuck in a hospital just a few days before Christmas.
Mitchen said he often visits nursing homes at this time of the year. “But I’ve got two healthy grandkids,” he added, explaining his motivation for visiting pediatric patients.
The men dispensed historical information along with the blarney. The real reason for the eye patch, Don Hoyt told the girls, was to help seafarers get a more accurate view of the stars.
Twelve-year-old Korvin Ronchetti of Buhl, who had surgery early in the day, told the men he could find treasure with a submarine and an air tank.
“What did they tell you you needed to find treasure?” prompted his dad, Dan Ronchetti. “Go to the …”
“Library,” Korvin finished the sentence.
Next door, 15-year-old Jackie Jonas was showing off the eye patch the pirates left with her.
The Hermantown High School sophomore had been living an adventure of her own. After suffering a dislocated hip in Proctor-Hermantown’s hockey game against the Duluth Northern Stars on Thursday evening, she spent 50 painful minutes being attended to on the ice.
After she was taken to the hospital, treated and transferred to the room, some of her teammates stayed with her until 1 in the morning. After all that, she admitted feeling a little groggy during the pirates’ visit.
There had been a lot of X-rays, including one she cheerfully brought up on her smartphone.
“I took a picture of it because it’s pretty great,” Jackie said, displaying the image of her right hip in a far different place than her left.
Jackie was due to be released from the hospital as soon as her nurse came to disconnect her IV; then she’ll face six weeks on crutches before she can begin physical therapy.
Korvin’s release from the hospital depended on his sister, who also was having surgery on Friday. But at worst, brother and sister both should get to go home Sunday.
For Marissa, it might take a bit longer. An infection had spread through her body, but she was gradually getting better, said her mom, Cary Kuck. Marissa may be able to go home as soon as Sunday, but the goal is to be home by Christmas for sure, said Kuck, who had spent two of the previous three nights in a chair next to her daughter’s bed.
The nautical visitors were a pleasant distraction, Kuck said. And Marissa said she was interested to learn about Mitchen’s explorations.
It wasn’t just a treat for little kids, the teen said. “It can be for big kids, too.”