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Hospital offers friend specialists to ease kids’ stress

LISTEN: Valley hospital using friend specialists to help kids

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Being in the hospital can be pretty stressful for a child. A Valley hospital uses specialists to act as friends to help them out.

Six-year-old Nyaomi was in the pediatric unit of Scottsdale Healthcare Shea when she had some visitors last night.

“My mom and the Tooth Fairy!” Nyaomi said. “I lost a tooth!”

Nyaomi came to the hospital 13 days ago, suffering from pneumonia and severe asthma. She was able to go home Thursday.

Child Life Specialist Melissa Ladensack has been Nyaomi’s buddy during her say. They’ve spent their time coloring, drawing and playing with dolls.

The dolls are specially-made to help kids who will undergo surgery learn what the doctor’s going to do.

“We can open the doll’s little bellies and show the kids where their appendix is and they can feel what that looks like on the doll,” Ladensack said.

And there are other tools that can help ease a child’s stress.

“We use actual medical items that they can play with in order for them to feel and touch them, and realize that they’re not as scary as they may look,” said Ladensack.

Child Life Specialists accompany the kids during medical procedures to help reduce stress. They are non-medical members of the medical care team.

March is Child Life Specialist month.

Scottsdale Healthcare Shea is offering tours of its pediatric care unit to parents by appointment. For more information, call (480) 882-4000.

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