York Hospital construction workers brighten therapy day for Wrightsville boy


Jessica Folckomer didn't know it at the time, but her son's name was another word for young warrior.

That's how Owen Lewis has been his whole life.

While pregnant, Folckomer, of Wrightsville, learned her son had a medical condition in which only part of his brain developed.

Doctors told her there was a good chance he wouldn't survive, and the news was hard to navigate, she said.

"They told me to name him just in case," she said. "I knew I had to be strong."

Now 3, Owen is walking with a walker and learning to talk.

"He's just as happy and outgoing as he can be," she said. "A true blessing."

Making strides: With regular therapy at York Hospital, Owen is determined, and his therapists are optimistic that someday he could walk without the assistance of the walker.

As part of his rehab exercise, the little boy must navigate the hallway.

During one of his sessions, Owen encountered construction workers — Mark Badorf of Alexander Building Construction and Mike Ferree of Gettle Inc. — who are working on the hospital's emergency room project.

When the two stopped to give the boy some encouragement, "Owen's face lit up, and he picked up his pace a little," said physical therapist Lisa Swartz in the hospital's internal newsletter.

"Although we praise and encourage him each week, it meant so much coming from others, particularly these construction workers," she said.

The men departed, returning shortly with a gift for the boy — a plastic construction hard hat.

"He was so excited," Folckomer said. "This made my day, to know that people can be so caring."

What's next: Folckomer said for the rest of the summer Owen will continue to do what he enjoys best — playing outside, playing with his trucks and enjoying time with his little sister.

He's even going to start school.

Hospital staff, meanwhile, are using the experience to illustrate how "everyone is a part of the patient experience," said Terri Nuss, WellSpan's chief patient experience officer, in the newsletter.

"While Mark and Mike's primary work is construction, they realize that we all, in our own ways, can help reduce anxiety for patients and their family members, as well as aid in the healing process," she said.

— Reach Sara Blumberg at sblumberg@yorkdispatch.com.