Upstate News

March 13, 2003
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

University Hospital marks Child Life Month with celebrations

University Hospital will celebrate March as National Child Life Month with a week of events beginning March 16 to honor and acknowledge the work of the hospital’s five child life specialists.

Certified child life specialists are specially trained non-medical members of the health care team who dedicate their days to ensuring that a child’s hospital stay or visit to the doctor is as stress and pain free as possible. Some responsibilities include coordinating pre-admission tours for children, support and distraction during medical procedures, playroom activities, planning field trips or special events and hospital visits and advocating on behalf of parents and children. Child life specialists also use special dolls or other age appropriate tools to help patients understand how a particular procedure will be performed.

Margaret Nellis, a certified child life manager who directs University Hospital’s Child Life program says one of her most basic responsibilities is to protect the emotional well being of children during hospitalization. “A hospitalization can be the most stressful episode yet experienced by a child,” she says. “Limiting the anxiety level of the child–and even the parents–can make the hospital experience a positive one for all.”

In keeping with tradition, child life specialists are asking hospital staff to recognize the special week by wearing a special color for each day of the week. On Sunday, March 16 hospital staff who want to celebrate Child Life Month should wear Red; Tuesday, green; Wednesday, orange; Thursday, blue: Friday, purple and Saturday, pink.

Child life specialists will be available to answer questions at an information booth Monday, March 17 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. outside the hospital cafeteria.

Celebration Shop, a national musical group specializing in songs for children, will perform Tuesday, March 18 at 9:30 a.m. in the hospital cafeteria. The group has won numerous awards for its music, including the American Library Association’s Notable Children’s Recording Award and the Family Channel Seal of Quality. One of Celebration Shop’s founders is Noel Paul Stookey, Paul of Peter, Paul and Mary fame. The local visit by Celebration Shop is made possible with support from UAW Local 624 and New Venture Gear.

Child life specialists will thank members of the pediatric staff for their support with an ice cream social Wednesday, March 19 from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in 5342 University Hospital.

On Thursday, child life specialists will take their outreach focus to St. Patrick’s School at 210 Schuyler St., Thursday, March 20, to speak to pre-schoolers on what to expect during a visit to the doctor’s office.

Friday’s celebration will feature various activities for pediatric patients.

In addition to Nellis, University Hospital child life specialists are Suzanne Karl, Marsha Kernan, Regina Lozito, Colleen Turner and Janice Whitcombe. All University Hospital child life specialists are certified by the Child Life Council.

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