Hospital Leadership Supports Child Life Program

Each quarter, the Leadership Development Institute (LDI) meets to provide continuing education for directors and managers of CHRISTUS facilities in Southeast Texas. Every meeting features a “Department Highlight” that gives our leadership the opportunity to have a more in-depth look at the benefits of a specific department and the services it provides. This November, the LDI planning committee chose to highlight the Child Life Program at CHRISTUS Southeast Texas St. Elizabeth.

Certified Child Life Specialist, Ashley Bares, spoke about the Child Life Program’s mission to help children and families cope with the stress and uncertainty of illness, injury, and treatment in the hospital. The services Ashley provides include therapeutic play, preparation and education to reduce fear, anxiety and pain for our pediatric patients.

Ashley uses colorful blankets to reduce anxiety and provide comfort and normalization for younger patients. “Parents often forget comfort items when rushing to the hospital, so when I can provide a child with something soft and soothing that they can keep with them, it reduces stress and builds trust between the patient and their healthcare team,” says Ashley. Another great resource she uses is stuffed animals. While also providing comfort and a sense of trust, stuffed animals are used for teaching purposes when explaining procedures to patients. “Showing a child what an IV looks like on a stuffed animal, and giving them the opportunity to help give that stuffed animal an IV, helps the patient assert control over their healthcare experience. It prepares them for what their own experience will look like,” explains Ashley.

When the leaders attending the LDI meeting heard about the Child Life Program and the wonderful benefits it provides for our pediatric patients, they were inspired to help. To show their support, they came together and purchased several blankets and stuffed animals for Ashley to use as she cares for the children at St. Elizabeth Hospital.

They ended up donating over forty much-needed stuffed animals and blankets to the Child Life Program! “Hospital funds are typically focused on medical tools and equipment so resources like stuffed animals – though they have a huge impact on our patients – don’t get replenished as often as they are needed,” says Ashley. “I cannot thank the LDI team members enough for their generosity and kindness in thinking about our pediatric patients! Their donation will bring comfort to kids at St. Elizabeth and help make their stay in the hospital less traumatic.”

Thank you for your much-needed donations and your support of the Child Life Program at CHRISTUS St. Elizabeth! Without donors like you, we wouldn’t be able to provide the best pediatric care in Southeast Texas.

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