MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. – At Ranken-Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital in Maryland Heights, Missouri, some of the smallest people face the tallest challenges. But they often do it with a smile on their face.
When 3-year-old Phalynn Graham is around you can save on electricity because she lights up the room.
"We've all fallen in love with Phalynn," noted Ranken-Jordan social worker Katie Luner.
But kids are born in hospitals, they're not supposed to grow up in one.
She came into this world two months early and her lungs weren't fully developed. Instead of getting attached to her mom, she was attached to machines.
"We lost her dad when she was two months old so I haven't enjoyed my baby because she hasn't been home," said Phaylnn's mom Tarvarshay Graham through tears.
In fact, other than the doctors and therapists no one has spent more time at Ranken than Phalynn. It's now more than two and half years. And while she may be tiny, she's proven to be tough.
"Coming from my neo-natal intensive care background often times these very premature infants have to be that to survive. And she is certainly that," said Lauri Tanner, Ranken's President and CEO.
Recently, the Graham family got some good news. Phalynn who has been on a ventilator all of her life can now come off of it twice a day for four hours.
"It's like night and day. She runs around the hospital, literally runs around the hospital. It's amazing to watch," said Luner.
"I think our care beyond the bedside model is what's brought that out in her. Because we've gotten her up and out of bed and engaged in different activities," said Tanner.
It may still be a while before Phalynn can go home but her mom said everybody at Ranken does their best to make her feel at home.
"I just love Ranken. They like welcome me in with open arms. Everybody helps me," said mom.
Building a bridge to send a little girl home by taking care of her lungs and keeping her close to their hearts.