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March 3, 2016
Susan B Cole 315 464-6547

Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital celebrates Child Life Month

SYRACUSE, N.Y.— Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital is kicking off its celebration of Child Life Month, which is recognized nationally each March. Child life specialists are professionals whose use of developmental, educational and therapeutic interventions help children and their families cope with challenging life events and experiences, such as those related to health care and hospitalization. For the first time this year, the Upstate Child Life team will also be paying tribute to creative arts therapies.“A child life specialist assesses each pediatric patient and their families to determine the best possible plan of care during a child’s hospital stay or outpatient visit,” said Margaret Nellis, CCLS, manager of the Child Life Program at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. “We have a number of tools that we can apply, from the high-tech multisensory environment upstairs to a small bumble bee that buzzes to take the sting out of a needle poke. Each child’s needs are different, and we adapt our practices to best meet those needs.”

This year, the Child Life Program will host visits for patients from the MOST (Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology), Twin Magicians, Irish step dancers, Skippy ice cream, McCarthy Family Singers and Jeff the Magician while also coordinating activities like bingo and cookie decorating. The Boy Scouts will hold their annual Pinewood Derby car race March 10 and soldiers from Fort Drum will compete in the Minute to Win it challenge March 23. In addition to all the fun, the team will hold a student teaching day March 4 for those interested in Child Life as a career as well as present at Grand Rounds March 16. Fun-filled activities will also be provided in outpatient pediatric areas.

Art Therapy and Music Therapy are both therapeutic interventions offered by the Child Life Program at Upstate Golisano. Art and music therapies support pediatric patients by helping them cope with a new diagnosis, stress or anxiety due to hospitalization; developing new coping skills; increasing positive communication skills; and/or improving pain management. This year, these services will be spotlighted with their own, creative-arts-therapy-focused events. These will include an Arts in Healthcare lecture at LeMoyne College, an Art Therapy Gallery Show in the 12th floor gallery of the hospital and music and art groups in the Kinney Foundation Performance Center at various times throughout March.  Creative arts therapies are provided by music therapist Clare Arezina, MT-BC and art therapist Maria Fazzini, LCAT, ATR-BC.

Caption: Members of the child life team at Upstate include, front row, from left: Clare Arezina, MT-BC; Maggie Zick, general pediatric inpatient; Sarah Buck, Water’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Upstate Cancer Center; Regina Lozito, pediatric surgery center; Margaret Nellis, manager; and Beth Kinsley, inpatient pediatric surgery. Second row, from left, Jamie Cary, pediatric pulmonary clinic; Sue Karl, inpatient pediatric intensive care unit; Marsha Kernan, radiology; Rachel Hannon, pediatric emergency services; Jon Crowder, pediatric inpatient hematology; art therapist Maria Fazzini, LCAT, ATR-BC; Brielle Swerdlin, pediatric emergency services; and Erin Ratajczak, Child Life Fellow.

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