Child life Program at The Children's Medical Center at Winthrop University Hospital

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1 Child life Program at The Children's Medical Center at Winthrop University Hospital Child Life specialists help prepares a child with what lies ahead. Such preparation helps patients cope with hospitalizations, treatments and other medical procedures, some of which can be painful or frightening. Winthrop University is a 591-bed major regional healthcare resource with a full complement of inpatient and outpatient services, and a deep commitment to medical education and research. With approximately 700 nurses and nearly 1,400 full-time and voluntary attending physicians, including more than 150 full-time faculty members and PhD medical researchers, the hospital offers a broad range of programs and services for the newborn through the elderly in a dynamic progressive environment. In the past few years, more than 20,000 children have been treated at Winthrop for both acute and chronic illnesses. Illnesses and injuries including, but not limited to, asthma, diabetes, trauma, cancers, lacerations, surgical procedures, orthopedic procedures and seizure disorders all of which can cause stress and uncertainty for pediatrics patients and their families. Additionally, there are nearly 66,700 office visits a year to the hospital's pediatric ambulatory services, such as: Cancer Center for KIDS, cardiology, endocrinology, pulmonology, and general pediatrics. As a result of these growing numbers, Winthrop University Hospital has now joined The National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI). NACHRI is an organization of children's hospitals with 218 members in the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Italy, China, Mexico and Puerto Rico. NACHRI promotes the health and well-being of all children and their families through support of children's hospitals and health systems that are committed to excellence in providing health care to children. NACHRI works to ensure all children s access to health care and children's hospitals continuing ability to provide services needed by children. Children s hospitals work to ensure the health of all children through clinical care, research, training and advocacy.

2 For more information on NACHRI please view their website at: Every day, thousands of children across the country will enter a hospital. From a child s perspective, a hospital is a blur of new people, strange sounds, scary machines, and needles. Fortunately, for the children at Winthrop University Hospital, a child life specialist is able to make sense of this often scary and intimidating environment. At the Children s Medical Center at Winthrop University Hospital, Child Life Specialists continue to minimize trauma of hospitalization and illness, promote growth and development, prepare children for painful and invasive procedures, teach relaxation and skills necessary for coping with illness or surgery, and provide emotional support, therapeutic and recreational activities for patients and families. The Child Life program at Winthrop-University Hospital is a therapeutic play program designed to meet the unique needs of the pediatric patient and ease the stress of hospitalization for both the patient and family. The program currently exists on the inpatient unit, Cancer center for kids, pediatric specialty center, and in the pediatric emergency department. Child Life strives to promote optimum development of children, adolescents, and families throughout the hospital experience. One of our main goals at Winthrop is to enhance our children s ability to cope successfully in the health care setting. We aim not only to decrease the psychological trauma associated with illness, but actually try to make it a positive experience for the child s growth and development.

3 The child life specialist is trained in child development and meeting the complex needs of children who are ill. We believe to help children cope with the stress of hospitalization a variety of play opportunities must be provided in order to encourage expression of feelings and promote a sense of mastery, and understanding of medical experiences. Child Life Specialists are available to children and families for emotional support, medical play, procedural preparation and parent education. Providing opportunities for gaining mastery, for play, for learning, and for selfexpression facilitate the child s overall adjustment to the hospital experience. The Activity Center is a safe haven for children where they can act out their fears and anxieties about their illness. It also serves as a place for normal developmental activities, arts and crafts, computer games, puzzles, internet access, and peer socialization. In the activity center, medical procedures are not permitted. This allows for children to feel safe and express their feelings and concerns freely. At Winthrop, children may find that the hospital can be a fun place too. Child Life coordinates special events to promote a sense of normalcy for patients and families. We arrange appropriate entertainment for the children such as clowns, magicians, special crafts, and holiday celebrations. Some of our most anticipated and enjoyed activities include visits from local sports athletes and magic shows.

4 It is also vital to maintain a sense of normalcy by celebrating birthdays, holidays and developmental milestones that take place during hospitalization. As one parent explained Thanks to the Child Life Program we were actually able to celebrate my daughter s birthday and catch a glimpse of a smile from her. The child life team made us try to forget where we were for a few minutes and that was the best gift we could have asked for. Unfortunately, government and insurance companies do not support this crucial program. As a result, the majority of our Child Life program, is funded with moneys raised by our fundraising and grant writing efforts. The annual cost of our Child Life program is over $250,000. Because of the rising numbers of pediatric patients that continue to be seen at Winthrop, both in-patient as well as out-patient, it is becoming increasingly more difficult for our staff to provide these services to all of our patients. To continue to provide these essential programs we must reach out to organizations such as yours to help fund them. If there is any additional information you would need about our Child Life Program, we would be happy to provide it. We look forward to being a partner with you in helping our patients get through this most difficult period of their lives. Thank you so much. Yours truly, Nicole Almeida

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