New Castle’s AJ Kirk: Yo-Yo Pro and A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children Patient Escort
The jokester, Team YoYoJam member and jack-of-all-tricks keeps a smile on the faces of patients and their parents, even through the toughest times.
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Bushy-bearded AJ Kirk is full of energy as he bounces down a hallway at A.I. duPont Hospital for Children. A recent mohawk haircut makes him a tad taller than six feet and the bar earrings at the top of each ear belie his 27 years. White-rimmed sunglasses are perched upside down on the back of his neck.
With big brown eyes and a boyish grin, Kirk is a friendly looking chap. His hearty laugh, heard early and often around the hospital, is infectious.
Kirk has worked as a patient escort for more than seven years. He seems to know every staffer and many of the patients at the bustling hospital. A longtime ultrasound technician walks by. “Sue,” he chirps with a smile. “What’s up, love?” She smiles back—just like everyone else he greets.
Children of all ages and ailments commute up and down the hospital’s long halls. Younger children are towed in plastic wagons, toddlers are carried by fast-walking mothers. There are kids in wheelchairs, and some steer powered scooters.
“The patients are here for everything from cancer to having something stuck in their nose that shouldn’t be there,” Kirk says, relating the story about the infamous Skittles Kid. “I thought he had boogers coming out of his nose, but he had shoved a green Skittle in each nostril,” Kirk says.
Kirk ducks into a room where a precious little girl, no more than three-and-a-half, rests in a bed while her parents hold a follow-up meeting with a surgeon.
The girl has an IV in her right arm, and one hand and one foot are wrapped in gauze. She fiddles with a smart phone. Kirk is here to help the young patient and her parents find their way to X-ray. He’s also here to entertain. His assorted talents, quick wit, and cheerful personality are just a few of the qualities that make him good at his job.
But this youngster is a tough crowd today, and understandably so. She begins to cry because she wants to go home.
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