Soothing Children and Families in the ED
Katherine Ives, CCLS, distracts the worry of a young patient in St. Luke’s Emergency Department.
A trip to the Emergency Department can be frightening, confusing or overwhelming for young patients. Parents often feel helpless when their child is ill or injured. And busy physicians and nurses don’t always have the time they would like to hold a child’s hand or ease a parent’s fear. Emergency visitors to CPMC’s St. Luke’s campus, though, are greeted by an angel—Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) Katherine Ives, part of a multidisciplinary team that provides psychosocial, emotional and educational support to children, families and clinicians.
“Before Child Life, no real advocate existed for our pediatric patients themselves other than their parents,” says H. John Liou, M.D., a pediatric hospitalist at St. Luke’s. “Now I notice a dramatic change in how all staff interacts with children simply after observing and working with Katherine.”
For more than two years, Ives worked 20 hours each week, calming nerves, distracting worry, facilitating expression, explaining procedures, and identifying resources. As more clinicians witnessed the magic of her touch, demand for her support increased beyond the time allotted.
“The more I am here, the more kids and their families I can help,” says Ives. “You never know who is going to walk through the door. Sometimes a child comes in with a cold, but upon further inquiry I discover other health needs or issues at home for which we can refer support.”
In 2013, thanks to a year-long grant from the Charles D. and Frances K. Field Fund, Ives’s hours expanded from two to three days, totaling 30 hours a week, benefitting more than 750 patients.
Child Life, no real advocate existed for our pediatric patients..."
—H. John Liou, M.D.