Miracle Monday│ Child Life Team turns fear into smiles at children’s hospital

Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 9:32 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The hospital can be a scary place for kids. That’s where the Children’s Hospital of Georgia’s “Child life team” steps in to help. This Miracle Monday we’re showcasing the people who work hard to get patients and their families through the toughest of times.

A job that is centered around making kids feel comfortable in the hospital.

“We provide them with toys, we provide them with normalization, we provide them with therapeutic play while they are here,” said Kim Allen, Manager of Child and Adolescent Life Services.

She says another big part of what they do is walking a child through what they are about to experience in a way they would be able to understand.

“You’re going to get a real big hug with the blood pressure cuff. You’re going to get your temperature taken, you might take some medicine, you’re going to get some sleepy air so you can take a special nap while the doctor does what they need to do,” she said.

While these conversations can be hard to have – therapy dogs like Nugget and Casey help make it easier for kids.

“She provides a piece as part of the medical team that the rest of us can’t. It’s not appropriate for me jump up in the bed and snuggle with a kid when they’re having a bad day. Nugget is one of two employees, her and the other dog who can do that,” said Harleigh Smith, Child Life Specialist/Dog Handler.

As you can imagine a lot of the conversations explaining what’s about to happen to kids are very visual. Whether it’s shown on Nugget or a doll, it’s all made to help them feel comfortable especially when it comes to talking about things like cancer.

“So this doll’s hair comes off, and we talk about things like this is how the medicine is working. Kids will also get a port. That’s the thing they get to help them get their medicine, and this is my port doll, so I let kids access the port,” she said.

The Child Life Team is provided at no cost to families. They’re in charge of planning fun events for Halloween and Christmas. They say with the help from donations they are able to provide these kinds of things.

“We have the holidays coming up and no one wants to be in the hospital, but especially at hospital times, so having a toy or gift to give the kids to help make things a little easier is what we try to do,” said Stephanie Grayson, Child Life Specialist.

The Child Life Team is essential and Kim says there’s nowhere else she’d rather be.

“We can transform a really scared kid into a kid that kind of masters their whole experience and that we provided tools to help cope with whatever happens to them when they walk through the door,” she said.

If you would like to help make miracles possible at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia and help support the team, you can donate here: https://www.augustahealth.org/give/miraclemonday or by calling 706-721-4004.

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