Hospitals focus on pediatric patients' social, emotional health

Two Pennsylvania hospitals now provide social and emotional care to patients to foster a more complete healing process, especially for pediatric patients who are constantly in and out of the hospital with chronic conditions, PennLive reported.

Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey focuses on children's psycho-social needs and advocates for family-centered care, according to the article. Child life staff--made up of experts in human growth, development and child psychology--address patient and family concerns and needs to ease what can be a traumatic process.

"When children and families come into the hospital setting or the healthcare setting, they are very overwhelmed and very stressed; they're experiencing a lot of anxiety," Ashley Kane, manager of Hershey's Child Life program, told the publication. 

Children can play games, watch movies, work on crafts or simply chat with the Child Life staff while undergoing sometimes scary and invasive hospital procedures like having blood drawn or getting an IV, according to the article. Staff members also describe procedures and give updates to worried parents, who in turn can help their child relax and know what to expect before a procedure.

Meanwhile, Lancaster (Pa.) General Hospital uses art-in-a-box kits--part of the hospital's Healing Arts program--to distract bored children looking for entertainment, and as an outlet for patients to express their fears and concerns, pediatric registered nurse Leigh-Anne Drumm told PennLive. The array of markers, crayons, scissors and glue gives children a sense of choice, an empowering moment during an emotionally draining experience, Drumm said. 

An increasing number of children's hospitals are turning to child life specialists to make children's patient experiences less traumatic and their treatment more efficient, FierceHealthcare previously reported, including DuPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., Stanford (Calif.) Hospital and University of California San Francisco Benioff Children's Hospital.

To learn more:
- here's the article