Kraftlove is extremely honored and excited to partner with the Child Life Services at Inova Loudoun Hospital. On Thursday, June 4th, I had the wonderful opportunity to tour the Pediatric Ward at Inova Loudoun Hospital as I visited the facilities before donating our Kraftlove art boxes. The facilities were amazing. Bright colorful walls and beautiful portraits of children, who are the actual children of hospital staff, surround the corridors, making the pediatric unit feel so warm and welcoming.
During my visit, I met with Sonya Sterbutzel, the Patient Care Director of Pediatric Services, Hannah Smith and Jessica Comfort, both Certified Child Life Specialists, Kelly Blanks, the Regional Donor Relations Advisor, and Renee Brohard, an official from Public Relations. I left Inova Loudoun Hospital impressed not only by their dedication to their pediatric patients, but also by the obvious pride they have in their hospital and their work. They strive to bring normalcy, creativity, and fun to the children they serve at the hospital.
The pediatric unit has a wide array of activities available for the children, including making slushies with a slushy machine. The children also started painting ceiling panels so that pediatric patients can look up at the ceiling and admire the beautiful array of colors and paintings, which will hopefully help distract them as they are undergoing a procedure in the exam room. The staff also showed me a really neat piece of equipment called the Vecta machine. The Vecta machine lights up and the children can play with the fiberglass tubes that illuminate as well. The staff frequently uses the Vecta machine with children with autism and children with developmental delays to help distract them so that they can have procedures done.
There are two very nice playrooms. One is geared toward younger children and the other is furnished with a Pac Man arcade game and air hockey table, which is used by the older children. Each patient also receives a stuffed animal named Beamer, who is the hospital’s “mascot.” Beamer comes with a book that tells a story about Beamer’s visit to the emergency room using child-friendly language.
Hannah Smith stressed the importance of using child-friendly language when talking to patients. After she meets with doctors and nurses, she translates all of the information to her pediatric patients using child-friendly wording. For example, she describes anesthesia as sleepy air and a stretcher as a bed on wheels. It is important to use child-friendly language so children can feel comfortable with the procedures and treatments they are receiving. She, like other child life specialists, also advocates for the children. For example, if she feels like having a parent in the room while a procedure is occurring would be beneficial to the patient then she will communicate that to the doctor.
In addition to all the great activities that are already happening at the Inova Loudoun Hospital, Sonya Sterbutzel said that Kraftlove boxes would be well received because “patients love arts and crafts.” She also mentioned that Kraftlove boxes could be placed in the rooms to welcome anxious new patients. The children can also do a craft as they are awaiting a procedure. Since Child Life Services also help children of adult patients at the hospital, Kraftlove art boxes can be used to open up dialogue to help children dealing with parents who are struggling with critical or life-threatening illnesses.
Kraftlove is very thankful to Inova Child Life Services for allowing us to partner up with them and we are looking forward to working together to give a little love in every box to children and families at Inova Loudoun Hospital.