Being in the hospital is hard. It can be especially hard on sick children and their families. Kids often are frightened about what’s going to happen to them, unable to fully understand their diagnoses, and in a strange, unfamiliar surroundings away from family and friends.
In addition, hospitalization can cause children to fall behind in school, feel isolated, become more dependent on their parents and miss social opportunities. These issues in turn can jeopardize a child’s physical, emotional and intellectual growth.
The Child Life Services program at Rush — like similar programs at other hospitals — helps children and families cope with the stress of health care experiences. March is Child Life Month, a time to celebrate child life professionals and educate people about their work.
Promoting development, providing reassurance
Child life specialists are experts in child development who work in the hospital setting. Through preparation, education, advocacy, emotional support, play and self-expression activities, their work encourages the optimal development of children facing a broad range of challenges, particularly those related to illness and hospitalization.
Tillman, his Cornerstone Foundation and Fifth Third Bank visit the hospital on March 15 with “Charles’ Locker.” Designed to brighten the lives of chronically and critically ill children and their families, it was filled with iPads, notebook computers, DVD players, gaming systems and other items to help patients pass the time while undergoing treatment or recovering.
Tillman called the locker contents, which will be placed in Rush Children’s Hospital’s activity room, “just something to smile about and feel good.”
“I’m thankful for you guys letting us come in and help out,” he said.
It is because of the doctors, nurses and staff at Rush that our son, Tanner, is alive.
Our story begins on Sept. 24, 2009. We scheduled our 20-week ultrasound with the doctors at Women’s Health Consultants based on a recommendation. It was that day that our son was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which meant that the lower left chamber of Tanner’s heart had never formed.
We were devastated, but we were quickly escorted upstairs to the seventh floor to meet Dr. Sawsan Awad in the Rush Center for Congenital and Structural Heart Disease. She took the time to explain the heart defect and its implications. We learned of the three surgeries Tanner would require and reassurance that we were in good hands. We went home exhausted, worried, sad, but optimistic our son would be fine in the hands of the Rush doctors.
Over the course of the next few months, we had several appointments for ultrasounds, echocardiograms and checkups. We were kept well informed on Tanner’s progress and our options. Our questions were encouraged and welcomed, and we were thankful for the open lines of communication we experienced. Continue reading →
We were so lucky on the Rush pediatric unit to be able to receive a great donation last month from a patient. Jeffrey, age 10, with the help of his parents, friends and fourth-grade classmates, brought lots of presents for the children who spent the Christmas holiday in the hospital.
It is always amazing to see what kids can do, and doing the toy drive for hospitalized children was all Jeffrey’s idea. We are so thankful for all that Jeffrey, his family, friends and classmates have done for the children here to make their holiday brighter.