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Avera Medical Minute: How Child Life Specialists provide comfort to both hospitalized children and their parents

Published: Sep. 7, 2020 at 9:58 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -

Claire Brandt and her big sister Elena have had many trips to the doctor for treatment of a rare condition requiring multiple scopes of their esophagus. They know what to expect now.

“Like it’s kinda like once you do it then it’s like not as scary. Like, understand it,” said Elena.

“And the first time is usually like when you’re always scared but then when you go there again you’re not scared,” said Claire.

Mom and Dad Dean and Danielle were there to comfort the girls. So was their child life specialist.

“They asked us as Leah can be there. It was kind of the most important thing for Leah to be there,” said Dean.

Child life specialists explain what will happen, then walk through the procedure with them.

“Then they ordered a CAT scan and here in comes Leah with her iPad and sits down on the bed by Elena and Elena is scared and feeling awful and showed her exactly what it was going to be like,” said Danielle.

Maybe Leah Schroeder has that special connection because she remembers what it was like.

“So I had a child a specialist. Growing up in the hospital setting when I was younger,” said Schroeder.

Her goal with every patient is the same.

“Make them feel special and wanted in a very unknown situation,” said Schroeder.

Elena was so touched, she chose Leah for a school project.

“You like, pick a hero like someone in your life that’s like made a difference. And then I picked me up because he was just like always with me in the hospital,” said Elena.

“That’s a pretty big honor to have a young preteen want to look up to me,” said Schroeder.

Doctors notice the anxiety melting away when their little patients have a child life specialist by their side.

“I think it totally raises the level of care having the child life specialist with us,” said Dr. Nanton.

Twila Perkinson has been at Avera for three decades.

“It is a calling you know it’s something because a lot of people say I can’t help with kids at the hospital must be so sad. But indeed it is not always sad. So it’s a great place to be,” said Perkinson. “I’d say, it probably fills my cup that the kids are able to be successful.”

Elena’s empowering statement comes from the support of family, friends, and child life specialists at Avera.

“Never give up. Be brave,” said Elena.

It’s a connection that not only helps the kids but parents too.

“It was just incredible to see, you know, just. She just truly takes the fear away,” said Danielle.

Copyright 2020 Dakota News Now. All rights reserved.

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