Upstate News

March 11, 2005
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

University Hospital celebrates Child Life Week beginning March 13

SYRACUSE, N.Y.- University Hospital will celebrate March as National Child Life Month with a week of events, including a Kids Fair sponsored by RadioDisney, beginning March 13 to honor and acknowledge the work of the hospital’s seven certified child life specialists.

“One of the hallmarks of a children’s hospital is the commitment it makes toward creating a welcoming, warm and non-threatening place for a child, and child life specialists help create this environment through their interactions with children and their families,” said Thomas Welch, M.D., professor and chair of the department of pediatrics. “Child life specialists are an integral part of our pediatric services here at University Hospital.”

Certified child life specialists are specially trained non-medical members of the health care team who help to ensure that a child’s hospital stay or visit to the doctor is as stress and pain free as possible.

University Hospital currently employs seven child life specialists. They are: Regina Lozito, Janice Whitcombe Nellis, Margaret Nellis, Marsha Kernan, Colleen Turner, Sue Karl and Kara Judd-Litera.

Some responsibilities include coordinating pre-admission tours for children, support and distraction during medical procedures, playroom activities, planning field trips or special events and hospital visits and advocating on behalf of parents and children. Child life specialists also use special dolls or other age appropriate tools to help patients understand how a particular procedure will be performed.

Margaret Nellis, a certified child life manager who directs University Hospital’s Child Life program says a basic responsibilities for a child life specialist is to protect the emotional well being of children during hospitalization. “The last place a child wants to be is in the hospital,” she said. “So our challenge is make this experience a positive one by helping to educate both patient and family about the hospitalization and in doing so lessen some of their anxiety.”

To highlight the hospital’s child life program, various activities are planned for the week of March 13.

On Monday, March 14, child life specialist Karl will be the guest dee-jay on “Kamille with a K” program, which airs from 4 to 5 p.m. on RadioDisney’s (WOLF-AM)

Judd-Litera will be a guest on WIXT NewsChannel 9’s Bridge Street program March 14 at 10 a.m.

Friday, March 18, RadioDisney will sponsor a Kids Fair from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on the fifth floor of University Hospital that will feature a prize wheel, crafts and other activities.

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