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March is Child Life month, a month where we celebrate our Child Life Specialists and help bring awareness to their unique role in health care. Child Life Specialists help normalize the hospital experience and bring fun, joy and comfort to hospitalized kids and their families.

We talked with Amy Rohyans Stewart, Child Life Specialist at Logan Health Children’s, about her profession and Logan Health’s Child Life Program.
What does a typical day on your unit look like?
ARS: My day begins by rounding on all pediatric and PICU patients with our incredible multidisciplinary medical team. This jumpstarts my developmental and coping assessment and helps me prioritize the psychosocial needs of our patients. Then the day usually unfolds, as needed, with preparation and support for IV starts, PICC line placements, port accesses, surgery, GI cleanouts, ambulation and more. In addition, I provide a wide array of play and craft options to keep kids active and being kids throughout their hospitalization and recovery.
What is your favorite part of your job? 
ARS: Kids (and adults, too) sometimes “lose” their sense of power and control to difficult past medical experiences or to the overwhelming anxiety of an impending medical intervention. I work hard to build trust, validate difficulties, and offer opportunities for control through choices—no matter how small—and remind them they can be scared AND brave at the same time. My very most favorite part of my job is to help a child find the place where BRAVE lives in their body in order to cope well with their SCARED and ultimately reclaim their POWER. That’s the stuff goosebumps are made of right there.

What kinds of activities do you plan for patients? 
ARS: Thankfully, I have many resources in Child Life to pull from when individualizing daily activities for patients and siblings. Our playroom of toys and games offers normalization play at the bedside and in the playroom. Chris, our Gaming and Tech Specialist, helps our young patients play video games. We partner with “Kids and Art,” who send us fully contained craft packets with a QR code/YouTube art lesson for that craft. We have materials for imaginative and symbolic art and play and medical materials to help kids process their experiences. Annually, we do a fun costume party in October, Cookies and Cocoa with Santa and Logan Health Children’s Toy Box in December, Logan Health Children’s Birthday Party and (new this year) Very Merry Un-Birthday event.

What is one thing you would like families/patients to know about your job? 
ARS: Child Life service begins with the patient, however, we work hard to support siblings and family members with preparation and processing of their own responses to the hospital. This patient- and family-centered approach is the foundation from which we build powerful therapeutic relationships and exceptional experiences.

Child life services are not billable through insurance. That means every patient and their family have access to child life, regardless of their ability to pay. The Child Life Program relies heavily on philanthropic support to carry out its mission of transforming the hospital from what can be a very scary place, to one that is safe and inviting for kids. Research supports that positive healthcare experiences in childhood can drastically shape the way one views healthcare as they age into adulthood. 

If you’d like to make a donation, visit www.logan.org/foundation/make-a-donation