Being in the hospital is difficult at any age, but it’s especially trying for kids. However, youngsters at CoxHealth – 11,500 in 2015 alone -- have some special people who help make the experience better. Those people are Child Life Specialists, and this month they’re celebrating their 25th year of serving kids at CoxHealth.
“By assisting children and their families in understanding hospitalization, diagnoses and procedures, Child Life helps to empower children in the healthcare environment,” says Rana Post, Child Life Coordinator at CoxHealth. “As we look towards the future and the ever-evolving needs of Pediatric patients and their families, Child Life will continue to be an essential part of the health care experience by helping provide for children’s psychosocial needs and facilitating play during hospitalization.”
In everyday terms, some of those efforts translate to preparing children for produces by explaining them step-by-step in kid-friendly terms, allowing children to touch and manipulate medical equipment prior to procedures to decrease anxiety, organizing special visitors and events, and distracting patients during procedures.
In 1991, CoxHealth began with one Child Life Specialist who served kids in the Pediatric Unit and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Today, the program has expanded to three full-time employees who aid kids in locations such as Same Day Surgery at Cox South, the CoxHealth Surgery Center, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the Emergency Department, Pediatric Urgent Care, Pre-Admissions, Radiology and Pediatric Sedation. The specialists also serve any adult patients in the hospital who are developmentally delayed.
Photo: From left to right are CoxHealth Child Life Specialists Amanda Eddington, Morgan Conrad and Rana Post.