Specialists ease young patients minds before surgery

Special team at CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier finds ways to ease young patients' fears

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - There’s nothing fun about going to the hospital, especially if you’re a young patient. A special team at CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier has found a way to ease the fear of the unknown for not just small patients but for parents too.

It’s through a team of child life specialists.

These specialists are used to help comfort and educate patients like seven-year-old Anne-belle Chatelain. The shy but always smiling second grader found out she would need a procedure for swollen lymph nodes in July.

Miracle Monday- Children's Miracle Network, John Stephenson

"She had a lot of episodes of strep throat during her first-grade school year. With that brought a swollen lymph node which we assumed was due to the strep throat and it never resolved."

Erica Chatelain, Anna-belle’s mom, said the family decided to take a closer look at the problem and that would require a surgery. "She's had a lot of procedures over her seven years but the unknown was just scary to her, so she was worried... She wouldn't let me go before we got to the hospital."

As a premature baby, born at 32 weeks, Anna-belle has experienced her fair share of doctor’s visits. She spent 30 days in the NICU after she was born. She’s had eye surgery, tubes put in, adenoids taken out, and a number of other procedures. But the trip to an unfamiliar place concerned her. She had a scheduled procedure on of all days – her birthday. Paige Cox is a child life specialists at CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier and on that day it was her job to make sure Anna-Belle did not spend her birthday worried. “There's a lot of misconceptions and a lot of fears of the unknown,” said Cox. "You want to make sure that they know all the things they're going to see, hear and feel so bring it down to the senses."

Cox said she spent that morning calming the young girl, helping her understand what was about to happen, and simply playing and making bracelets. It also gave mom and dad the chance to have a sense of calmness. "Trying to listen and take in what the doctor is saying but then also worry about her well-being and her fear as a parent, it was a life-saver."

Miracle Monday- Children's Miracle Network, Chanel Anderson

CHRISTUS, which is our area Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, can offer child life specialists for young patients at no cost thanks to your donations. Learn more about how you can donate here.

For a child, surgery can be not only scary but also difficult to understand

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