When we think about choosing a place for our child to have surgery we think, appropriately, about the surgeon, and perhaps the anesthesiologist.
Many surgeons and anesthesiologists are able to provide technically excellent intraoperative care for children as well as adults, or exclusively for children, but if that care is provided in a non-children's hospital, something else might be missing. I am including below an exerpt from a letter written by the grandparent of a child who recently underwent a surgical procedure at the Carilion Clinic Children's Hospital to one of our Child Life Specialists.
A Child Life Specialist is an expert in addressing the psychological and emotional needs of children experiencing illness, undergoing procedures, or suffering from pain.
During the course of preparing her for the surgery and all that would take place at that time, you worked closely with her, you gave her a sense of comfort and a sense that even though she had to go through this, that you would be with her through it all. The fact that she would be seeing a familiar face and not just a group of masked strangers was settling for her. She had spent the couple of days prior to her surgery with us and during those two days, she talked about you so much and how easy you were to talk with and how fond she was of you. This was reassuring to us as well.
On the day of her surgery, you were indeed there for her and that meant so much. But in addition to that, you were there for us as well. You kept us closely informed of what was going on, what we could expect and her progress through the whole process. Your presence and your obvious devotion to your patients was such a blessing to us. Your gentleness, your compassion and your sensitivity to our anxiety helped us to get through this with minimal stress. I had my tonsils removed when I was 19 (and it was awful!!) but would have readily and willingly gone through it again for Alexis if that had been possible. YOU made it much more bearable for us all.
We thank God for you and that there are still some people out there like you who truly do care and take the opportunity to provide excellent patient care seriously.
Isn't that wonderful? How many of us have had a stressful hospital experience?
I know I had a dreadful time when I was hospitalized at the age of 9. There were no child life specialists at that time, and even if there had been, I was admitted to a hospital that did not provide that kind of specialized care for children.
I am tremendously proud knowing that our children's hospital can provide a healthcare experience for children and their parents that is caring and personal. A surgeon and an anesthesiologist, no matter how good they are at what they do, can not do what this grandparent wrote about.
Our child life specialists provide care in our inpatient unit, our oncology clinic, the operating rooms and the pediatric emergency department in Roanoke. They are part of what makes a children's hospital a children's hospital.