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Mary Bridge Children’s Child Life Services team gets creative during outbreak

Posted on Apr. 23, 2020 ( comments)

During significant changes in our hospital and around the world, the Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital Child Life Services team has been doing what they do best: adapting to the needs of kids, families, and multidisciplinary team members.

Child Life team members are no strangers to finding creative and innovative ways to reduce stress and anxiety for patients. But with challenges like limited personal protective equipment (PPE), there’s no one-size-fits all method to accomplish this. So, Child Life is utilizing their expertise and ability to be flexible to provide meaningful interactions with kids in a variety of ways.

The decision to temporarily close all hospital play areas did not come easily, but with safety and stewardship as top priorities, the team recognized the need to conserve cleaning products and PPE. This also meant eliminating group activities and mingling of patients, families, volunteers, and staff in that space. But the Child Life team found alternative ways to keep play at the focus as it remains of utmost importance for kids to manage difficult experiences. The team put together individualized activity kits for children who are isolated in their hospital rooms.

“We’ve used our generous community donations to create one-time use activity kits for children across our hospital and clinic spaces,” Child Life Department Supervisor, Julie Hertzog, says.

Donations of Play-Doh, Legos, games, craft supplies, stuffed animals and more allowed the team to make kits for all developmental ages. They are also utilizing Children’s Museum of Tacoma care kits funded by the Mary Bridge Brigade.

Lou Ann with Cart - Child Life MB

Child Life is also continuing to empower kids with positive coping techniques for their medical experiences. They are updating educational and preparation materials for procedures, like IV starts and nasogastric feeding tube insertions. These kits and materials are being utilized with patients now.

“We have been safely seeing patients who still need our support and have been listening ears and a calming presence for staff, parents and patients alike,” Julie says.

For children and families at home that are feeling disconnected from their communities, the team has created an “Activities of the Day” series on Mary Bridge Children’s Instagram as well as several live stream books readings on Mary Bridge Children’s Facebook.

“We recognize that everyone has been impacted by COVID-19 and we will continue to work tirelessly to adjust to the needs of the situation,” Julie says. “Now, more than never, we are committed to the greater team and to the organization that provides health and healing in our community. We’re in this together.”

Child Life is available by phone to provide support for families navigating this time of emotional challenges and transition at home and/or coping tips for families dealing with a COVID-19 diagnosis (patient or family member). Please call 253-403-5315 and one of our Child Life Specialists will be in touch with you.

If you would like to support the Child Life Team in their efforts to reduce stress and anxiety for kids and families at Mary Bridge Children’s while social distancing, make a gift to Mary Bridge Children’s Where The Need Is Greatest fund, today. 

About The Author

Kristen Bishop Kristen Bishop

Kristen Bishop is a Child Life Specialist at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma.

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