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Wolfson Children's Hospital's Child Life specialists change program that entertains, eases patients, due to COVID-19

The hands-on department relies on games, toys, and crafts to help patients cope with treatment but have had to make health and safety changes because of the virus.

At Wolfson Children’s Hospital, there are workers whose job is to make a child’s stay as fun as possible, while easing anxiety about their treatments. 

With added COVID-19 worries, they’re going the extra mile to make things a little less scary.

Whether it’s playing video games like they’re at home, painting what scares them about surgery, or a conversation about what to expect during treatment, the Child Life Department helps kids adjust to being in the hospital and provide support before and after their procedures. 

But Pat Kirkland, the Family Support Services manager at the hospital says the department has had to make health and safety changes because of COVID-19.

“We’ve actually closed the playrooms temporarily right now," Kirkland said.

Another change Kirkland says they're dealing with is that they're, "unable to accept any donations.” That’s of toys and games from the community, something the department heavily relies on. 

Though the specialists have come up with creative ways to keep the kids entertained in their rooms and their jobs as hands-on as possible.

“We are exploring other options and considering ways maybe that we can use our media center more robustly so that we can definitely get to all the kids on isolation," Kirkland said.

However, specialists still rely on their trusty toolbox to distract patients from procedures.

“Sometimes, with the younger kids especially, just giving them a soothing rain stick to listen to,” says Kirkland, or even, “bubbles. Always great to have bubbles in the toolbox.”

The department, and the hospital as a whole, is limiting visitors to keep everyone safe. The pediatric patients are still allowed to have a parent or caregiver with them, giving them extra comfort in a time of uncertainty.

The Child Life Specialists are taking the extra step to speak with patients and their parents about any additional fears of the coronavirus, making them feel as much at ease as they can.