Patient Program Helps Kids Feel at Home in Hospital

BAY COUNTY-- Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center is calling it's new "Child Life Specialist" program a success.

The program tries to alleviate stress for kids and teenagers who may be scared of hospitals.

Newschannel 7's Sanika Dange got a first hand look at some of the strategies they use.

Two year old Kai Kilbourn is in the pediatrics unit at Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center for a respiratory illness.
He's one of several kids child-life-specialist Deanna Bay sees on a daily basis.

"They can be here for one day for an overnight surgery to weeks at a time."

As you can see, Kai feels completely at home here, but bay says that's not often the case.

"For babies, anything from the lights and the environment and loud noises can be stressful. For children, needles, the medical jargon, any sort of medical equipment that is unfamiliar can seem really scary. And for teenagers, sort of the lack of privacy," said Deanna Bay, Child Life Specialist.

"This is the kit they give to two to five year old kids who may have some hesitations about being in the hospital and may be a little bit afraid of the equipment that may be used on them. Inside they have a play stethoscope, a blood pressure cuff, and a play needle."

Bay says the biggest misconceived fear kids have is they believe a needle stays in their arm during IV's.
The needle just guides the catheter.

"Once they find out that it's very literally a straw giving them the drink, they're a lot happier about the whole experience."
scared patients can make it hard for doctors to do their job, but it could also affect the patient."

"When children are scared and bored, it's been proven that they don't heal as quickly, so we wanna limit the time as possible for children to be able to heal while they're here.'

So kids like Kai can go home as soon as possible.

Kai is expected to go home today, but he told Newschannel 7 he was so happy at Gulf Coast Medical Center, he wants to stay!