When children come to the hospital for an appointment, procedure, or inpatient stay, they’re often nervous and fearful for the unknown. Upon arrival, patients are greeted by check-in staff, nurses, and doctors. Often times though, there is another group of individuals who play a vital role in the patient experience and help patients take on their fears.
The Child Life Department at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC works closely with kids and families, serving as emotional support, helping to develop coping strategies, explaining medical terminology, preparing for procedures, and so much more.
Kids like Addison, a 7-year-old hematology patient, are drastically impacted by this program and Child Life specialists every day.
Addison has been a patient at Children’s Hospital for the past three years after being diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia, a deficiency of all types of blood cells caused by failure of bone marrow development. Addison underwent a bone marrow transplant and spent several weeks in the hospital in isolation.
One Child Life specialist, Mike, made an immediate connection with Addison. Mike taught Addison how to swallow pills, went to her school to teach her classmates about her condition, and has been with Addison through countless procedures.
Mike also introduced Addison to Katie, an art therapist, who Addison quickly summoned upon each arrival because she enjoyed their time together so much. With Katie’s help, Addison was able to participate in several art shows during her hospital stays.
Nicole, a music therapist, demonstrated the healing power of music to help Addison pass the time during her long inpatient stay. Addison sang songs and played the bongo drum alongside Nicole playing a guitar.
The child life program is a powerful program that many families rely on and is possible because of philanthropy and your community support.
This month, we celebrate our Child Life team and all the work they do for our patients and families. You can help make sure every patient and family can experience the positive impact of child life by making a gift today at www.givetochildrens.org/donate.