BILLINGS – The average day for pediatric cardiologist Dr. Andrew Lashus is usually spent in the office, visiting with some of St. Vincent Healthcare’s smallest patients, making sure they’re heart-healthy.
“When kids come to this office, you know, obviously we have a job to do, but there's absolutely no reason why it can't be a really positive, or even fun environment," Dr. Lashus said.
To create that fun environment, he wanted to send his pediatric patients off with something more than the traditional doctor’s office departing gifts of stickers and lollipops.
With some time to reminisce during the pandemic shutdown, Lashus recalled a bedtime story he made up for his son more than 20 years ago titled “The Boy Who Went to Bed Late”.
“He was going through a patch where he wouldn't sleep and was kind of a miserable, little miniature human being in the daytime, and that was the emphasis to write that little story," Lashus said with a laugh.
Reading was a family favorite, and Lashus made up stories and rhymes from time to time.
"I think this was one that I kind of made up in that regard, and my wife saw it said maybe we should keep that one, it's far better than the rest of the stuff you've done," Lashus said.
The idea of publishing his story quickly caught on and gained support from the St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation.
"If you look at our bio on Dr. Lashus, I think his comment is he treats healthcare by treating every child as if they're his own. And in this particular case, he and I had a visit early on where we talked about, what better way for him to treat every pediatric patient as his own, than to write a book for them," said Ty Elkin, executive director of the St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation.
The community momentum didn’t stop there.
“We were able to get the work done with Heins Creative right here in Billings, and our friends at Ultra Graphics to produce it. So for it to be a community-wide event where we can really talk about how our community helped us, we were pretty excited," Elkin said.
“I just got a phone call out of the blue from Dr. Lashus, I had never met him before. He just called and asked if I'd be interested in helping illustrate and design his book that he wrote a few years ago. And it just so happened with the COVID situation, business kind of declined and we happened to have the time. It turned out to be a good project to get involved with," said Joe Heins of Heins Creative.
The twin brother team at Heins Creative also illustrated a girl edition of the book, so parents can read either version to their children.
"The words are only a part of the book. And I think Joe and Jim Heins did a fantastic job of creating illustrations that are the words and bring the story to life," Lashus said.
Each pediatric patient is given a copy of the book at the end of their visit.
Anyone else interested in getting a copy can pick one up at the St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation office at 1106 N. 30th St.