Mercy Children's Hospital
Services - Child Life Program
Child Life Specialists: Helping Hospitalized Children Have Fun Did you know that there are recognized health benefits to including fun in a child's hospital stay? In fact, play is one of the most powerful and effective means of stress reduction in children. Thus, a well-structured Child Life Program is a very important tool for decreasing the trauma of a hospitalization in infants, children, and adolescents.
Child life specialists are special members of the health care team. It is their job to provide opportunities for hospitalized children to play, to learn, and to express themselves. A child life specialist helps pediatric patients understand their medical experiences, thereby helping alleviate any anxiety and stress related to illness, separation, hospitalization, and medical encounters.
Child Life Program at Mercy Children's Hospital - 419-251-4662
A Safe Place to Play
At Mercy Children’s Hospital, child life specialists maintain a playroom. This area is considered a safe haven for pediatric patients. This means that no medical interventions, tests, or procedures can be done in this area. In the playroom, children are free to make choices. This is important because pediatric patients cannot always be afforded choices in other aspects of their care.
The safe and creative atmosphere of the playroom encourages children to feel free to express themselves and to explore their feelings about illness and hospitalization. Here, children engage in therapeutic play and recreational activities with other children. They also benefit from interactions with child life specialists and volunteers who are not directly involved in their medical care. Playroom choices range from movies, video games and computers, to arts and crafts of all kinds; and from dolls and trucks to infant gyms and toddler riding toys. Almost all of the toys and activities in the playroom are also available for use with pediatric patients who are confined to their hospital rooms.
Clowns, Dogs, and Other Special Visitors
Special visitors and special activities add their own dimension to a child’s hospital stay. Child life specialists are responsibile for arranging such visits and activities. Dr. I.C. Giggles performs clowning routines and magic, bringing smiles to our patients, families, and staff. Believing that laughter is, indeed, among the best medicines, he fills his doctor's bag with tricks designed to bring humor to the inpatient pediatric unit. Three days a week, special pet therapy dogs visit our patients in their rooms. These dogs are trained and licensed through Therapy Dogs International. Each dog has his/her own special way of comforting the children.
Celebrating Special Occasions
In addition to all of the other things that child life specialists do, they never miss a chance to celebrate a patient’s birthday, a special occasion, or a holiday in the pediatric inpatient unit. Their ultimate goals are to make hospitalized children comfortable and to make their time spent in the hospital as much like home as possible!