Most parents today know and understand the advantages of having their child treated in a children’s hospital.
Children’s hospitals, like MUSC Children’s Health, treat the sickest children in the country. Their physicians, surgeons, specialists, anesthesiologists and nurses are specially trained in caring for children. They understand that children require specialized equipment and child-size doses that aren’t always available in adult hospitals.
Equally important, MUSC Children’s Health hospital, offers a dedicated Child Life team who understand the emotional issues that not only young patients experience but also their parents and siblings.
Hospital and medical experiences can be upsetting for children and may interfere with normal childhood activities. The purpose of the Child Life Program is to encourage emotional well-being and normal development in health care settings through the use of play, education and support. National studies have shown that children recover sooner by including this specialized kind of care.
MUSC Children’s Health provides child life specialists on all inpatient units, in procedure areas, pediatric perioperative areas and the pediatric emergency department.
The child life staff have specialized training and experience in understanding children’s reactions to illness and hospitalization. They are professionals who hold degrees in child life, child development and complete Child Life internships, leading to Child Life Certification.
They rely on these skills to support and promote the developmental progress and emotional well-being of children.
This summer, Madison Ashmore, a 12-year-old from Myrtle Beach, along with her family, learned firsthand the value of child life services. She was referred to Dr. Robert Murphy, a pediatric board-certified orthopaedic surgeon. She was diagnosed with scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, and was scheduled for surgery in August.
Dr. Murphy coached her and her family on what to expect with surgery and introduced her to Jennifer Redfern, a senior child life specialist at MUSC Children’s Health.
“This is a child who is bothered by paper cuts, so you can guess how she felt about surgery,” said Robert Ashmore, Madison’s father. “It was something we were all worried about, but Jennifer helped all of us,” he added, referring to mom Meredith and 7 year-old brother J.D.
“Talking with children about surgery and showing them what will happen can help them feel less anxious and more in control," she said
“She went out of her way to help us, and arranged a tour of the hospital and introduced us to all the areas we would need,” he said.
Scrub Club, the MUSC Children’s preoperative tour, is a fun way for children and their families to learn more about having surgery. Children often have fears and misunderstandings about their operation. Worries about pain, separation and fantasies about what will occur all are common, according to Redfern.
Robert Ashmore said from the moment they arrived in the parking lot at MUSC, it was clear sailing.
“Jennifer prepared us for everything. We knew where we’d go first, where the family could stay, where Madison would get anesthesia, all the way down to J.D. She even showed him where he could play while Madison had surgery,” he said.
“She got to pick the flavor for her anesthesia mask and meet all the staff that would be there the day of surgery. On surgery day we were fully prepared, and Madison knew what to expect,” he added.
“As a father, you want the best for your children and not at one point, did I think it could be better,” said the proud father.
He credits Madison’s successful surgery and recovery to MUSC Children’s Health along with the preparation and care Child Life provided to Madison and her family.
Scrub Club tours are open to all MUSC Children’s Health pediatric patients, parents and siblings, by appointment.