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When 30 students arrived, child-life specialists helped them cope

Posted on Sep. 25, 2013 ( comments)

Child-life specialist Robyn Carper arrived at Good Samaritan with a red wagon full of board games and stuffed animals.

Emergency Departments are prepared for just about anything.

A busload of 30 elementary school kids presented a slightly different challenge last week at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital, after students and staff members were sickened by fumes at a Tacoma school.

While doctors, nurses and medical staff worked evaluate each child (everyone turned out to be in good condition), two child-life specialists traveled from Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital to help the kids cope with the experience.

Child life specialists are child-development experts who help children cope with the hospital environment through play, self-expression activities, and age-appropriate medical education.

Child-life specialists Robyn Carper and Valerie Chance arrived at Good Samaritan with a red wagon full of board games and stuffed animals.

“Engaging them in group games helps keep them connected, so they can lean on each other for support,” Carper said. “That group interaction helps prevent them from feeling isolated.”

They played “Simon Says” in the ambulance bay while kids were checked into the Emergency Department. Inside the hospital, they organized board games for small groups of kids, to keep them occupied until they could be reunited with their parents.

Stuffed animals and blankets offered comfort to each child – except for one boy who said he was too old for stuffed animals. The kids also received a firefighter hat and a goodie bag from Central Pierce Fire & Rescue.

“We think about how we can normalize this environment for them,” Carper said. “One thing we highlighted was having fun. All of the kids were fantastic.”

Carper and Chance also offered praise for all of the employees in the Emergency Department. 

“I wanted to personally thank Good Samaritan Emergency Department for their extraordinary work receiving and supporting the 30 elementary students," Carper said. "From the moment we arrived 'til the last child was discharged, each staff member exemplified MultiCare’s values in each of their interactions with each other and the children they cared for that day. It was a privilege to be a part of their team that day and to watch how they collaborated with each other to ensure each child’s needs were met. It could have been a very different experience for the children that day, but because of the thoughtfulness that went into each detail of that triage, the children walked out of the Emergency Department that day with huge smiles on their faces!”

Learn more about their work: "Child-life specialists help comfort kids"

Posted in: Kids' Health
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