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KC Parent: When Your Child Is in the Hospital

By Christa Melnyk Hines

Amanda Connealy will never forget her daughter Olivia’s first hospital stay two years ago. She was admitted following a massive seizure, and the stay lasted just over three months.

“We were scared out of our minds and worried for Olivia, of course,” says Connealy, a Lenexa mom of four. “Every moment was filled with hopeful anticipation for good news, but instead, it seemed like the prognosis just kept getting worse.”

Manage fears. Although pediatric hospitals focus on creating a welcoming environment for their young patients, it’s normal for kids to feel anxious.

“If they seem scared or worried, ask them about their feelings and provide truthful explanations,” says Missy Stover, CCLS, assistant director of Patient and Family Support Programs, Children’s Mercy Hospital. “Young children sometimes need reassurance that they didn’t do anything wrong to cause their illness.”

Jennifer Sauer, Blue Springs, used a doll that the Children’s Mercy child life team gave to her son Jack, now 4, to help explain upcoming procedures as he awaited a life-saving kidney transplant.

Jack had been undergoing daily dialysis since he was only 1 because of kidney failure.

“His ‘Super Buddy’ doll has a port like him,” Sauer says. “For example, when prepping him for his biopsy surgery, we explained in basic terms what the team would be doing prior to and during his procedure.”

If your youngster is frightened about getting a shot or an IV, Stover suggests putting your child on your lap, practicing deep breathing or playing on an iPad during the procedure.

“Parents can also ask the provider for a topical medicine to numb the skin so the child won’t feel the poke as much,” Stover says.

 Try to stay upbeat. “I know it’s scary, but as the parent, try your best to stay calm, comforting and positive,” Sauer says. “You are the biggest factor in trying to set the tone to help put your child at ease, and in turn, that can help you.”


Read the full story via KC Parent

Learn more about Patient and Family Support Services at Children's Mercy