New pediatric procedure room has calming effect
With mirrored disks reflecting off the turquoise walls and two lighted columns with ever-changing colored bubbles flowing up and down, a newly renovated room in the Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis almost looks like a party room, rather than a procedure room.
That's the basic idea behind this new resource now available in the ChildLife Center: to take the fear out of having procedures and to safeguard the idea of a child's hospital room as being a safe, healing place.
Child life specialists Angie Long and Catherine Coakley were behind getting the room established. It was completed in early March to celebrate national Child Life Month, which recognizes the role of specialists who help children and families cope with hospitalizations.
Because lab draws, IV starts and other invasive procedures can cause fear and anxiety in children, child life experts, pediatric pain specialists and even the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend using a separate treatment room as a way to "mitigate this distress," said Wendy Mosiman, clinical nurse specialist with Pediatrics/Pediatrics Intensive Care/Ortho-Neuro Adult units.
"This allows the hospital room to remain a safe place where children don't have to constantly fear the occurrence of a painful procedure," Mosiman said.
"We don't bring everyone to the room, but we try to encourage its use," said Coakley, noting that not every child has such fears. "I've had parents and staff say great things about having this room available."
Once in the room, the child can be distracted by not just the cool-blue environment and the lighted columns, but other gadgets and gizmos.
A bulky bunch of lighted fiber optic wires can be placed in a child's lap, allowing the weight and the changing lights to serve as a distraction. Kids also can focus their attention on handheld spinning toys or an "I Spy"-type of map of underwater creatures hung on the ceiling, instead of the staff member conducting the procedure.
Besides the physical distractions, Long and Coakley also can help alleviate fears by encouraging deep, relaxing breaths or using therapeutic holds to calm the children.