Spending time in the hospital can be a scary experience for young children. From movies and games to teddy bears and murals, local hospitals work hard to ensure their young patients are as comfortable and happy as possible during their stay.
The staff at area Franciscan Alliance hospitals strives to make the hospital as welcoming as possible for young patients. Senior director of patient services for Franciscan St. Margaret Health-Dyer/Hammond, Linda Kraiko wants the children to feel at home. “We encourage them to bring their blanket and toys from home,” Kraiko said. “We try to make it as comfortable as we can with whatever they need.”
Kid-friendly murals brighten the walls and painted clouds float along the ceiling of the rooms on the pediatric floor at Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Crown Point, says Sarah Volovlek, nurse manager of the Medical Pediatrics Floor at Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Crown Point. “They make it less of a scary environment,” Volovlek explained
The hospitals also benefit from donations from community groups and organizations throughout the year. In the past, the hospitals have received kid-sized blankets from Binky Patrol of Jasper County, a stuffed puppy and a book that explains the hospital from American Legion Fred Schmidt Post #20 in Crown Point, dresses and character toys from Disney, and wagons and a Wii with 30 installed games from Starlight Children’s Company in Chicago, among other donations.
“The kids like to use the wagons up and down the hall to get out of the room,” Volovlek said, and the Wii helps “to keep their mind off everything else that’s going on while they’re here.”
Director of Medical-Surgical Services at Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Crown Point, Janice Reid, says the hospital recognizes that children can be very afraid to stay in a hospital. “Anything to alleviate their fears or make them feel more comfortable is why we do these things,” Reid said.
Community Hospital in Munster’s new “Buddy Bear” program is designed to help children better cope with the stress and anxiety they may feel during a hospital visit. Nurse Manager of Pediatrics at Community Hospital, Teresa Meece, RN says the bears are distributed to young patients to help make their stay less scary and more comfortable.
“The bears represent a new friend they can cuddle with and get to take home with them,” Meece said. “The kids really like them because they are just the right size to hold on to and give a hug.”
Plastic Surgeon Gus Galante, MD, who is actively involved in community projects and charitable organizations across Northwest Indiana, coordinated with the America Unit #901 of B’nai B’rith to deliver a supply of 1,000 bears to the pediatric department.
“America Unit #901 is an organization dedicated to providing services that aim to strengthen family life in communities throughout Northwest Indiana,” Galante explained. “As a physician, I understand how scary it can be to be in the hospital—in an unfamiliar environment, with lots of new faces and having to undergo a strange treatment or procedure. The bears bring a bit of solace and comfort.”
In addition to the bear program, the hospital also has a collection of DVDs and games donated by various community groups for the children’s entertainment. The hospital strives to provide a comfortable healing environment with brightly colored murals and welcoming artwork, as well as comfortable lighting for a more restful atmosphere.