For children and their parents, facing a hospital stay can be intimidating. This is not true at Good Samaritan thanks to its innovative Child Life Program. The Child Life Program, which started at Good Samaritan in 2003 with a donation from The Starlight Children's Foundation, focuses on making a child's health care experience more comfortable using tools familiar to them, such as art, play and education. The child life specialists join with the pediatric health care team to promote and support the family's role in their children's hospital experience.
The child life staff currently consists of a program director and five child life specialists. The staff has specialized training and education in understanding children's reactions to hospitalization and illness and are certified as child life specialists by the Child Life Council. Their role is to assist children and their families to better deal with a hospital experience and to help young patients understand and cope with any fears or anxieties. The program promotes emotional well-being and normal development through a variety of therapeutic activities. Patients in the Pediatric Unit, those in Good Samaritan's pediatric emergency room and pediatric ambulatory surgery patients can all benefit from this valuable program.
The child life specialists serve as liaisons between medical staff and patients. The specialists mentally prepare pediatric patients for tests and procedures by explaining the steps and often demonstrating the process on a bear or doll. The staff also strives to keep children connected with their lives outside the hospital. The program also offers a licensed teacher to act as a liaison between patients and their own schools.
Preparation for Surgery
Surgery and medical procedures can be very stressful for children of all ages. Preparing children ahead of time for the things they may experience in the hospital will reduce much of their anxiety and will help them cope and trust you and the people they meet in the hospital. Parents frequently request materials or teaching tools to help support their child through surgery. Nurses and child life specialists offer special preparation classes to help you and your child get ready for surgery. Please call (631) 376-3717 to find out about the next surgery preparation class if your child is scheduled to have surgery at Good Samaritan.
The Child Life Program provides a "safe haven" for children. Whether they are busy enjoying activities in the pediatric playroom or working on an art project with a specialist at their bedside, it is a time when kids can be themselves. No medical procedures are performed in the playroom making it a safe place where children are free to relax and play. Members of the medical staff are always invited in to interact with the children in the playroom away from the medical environment. The playroom offers toys, arts and crafts and a variety of games. Art therapy and horticulture therapy are also provided. Because play is the most natural and comfortable way for children to express themselves, it is an integral part of the Child Life Program.
Services provided by Good Samaritan's Child Life Program are made possible through donations received from the community throughout the year. For information on how to support the Child Life Program, please call (631) 376-4444.