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Using technology to help educate, prepare, and distract kids in the hospital

The hospital can be a scary place for any patient, and even more so for children. iPads have been around for nearly four years and in that time they have expanded the way children are educated, prepared, distracted, and provided normalization in the pediatric areas of the hospital.

Educating kids

An iPad allows staff to teach patients about a new diagnosis while making it fun and interactive. An iPad provides a visual and hands on way to teach about a diagnosis and also make sure the patient understands their diagnosis. There are many apps designed by healthcare professionals for diagnosis education with kids. Some of these applications include: “Medikidz explains Type One Diabetes”, “Blast Those Blasts” (for children with cancer, specifically leukemia), “Flow Breather” (for children with cystic fibrosis) and “Wellapets- Asthma Education Pets for Kids.”

Helping kids prepare for a procedure or experience

Most pediatric patients ...

What you need to know about Enterovirus D68

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion in the media about a severe type of respiratory illness affecting many children, mainly in the Midwest.  The respiratory illness, caused by an infection with Enterovirus D68, is scary to parents, because it’s hard to differentiate whether their child is ill from this particular virus or just has one of the many other viruses that cause cold- and flu-like symptoms around this time of year.
 
Sometimes media reports leave families with more questions than answers, which is why Dr. Dianne Glover, one of Swedish’s pediatric infectious disease specialists, wanted to share this information with you:

  • Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is an unusual form of an otherwise common group of viruses referred to as Enteroviruses.  These are hardy viruses that usually spread by the respiratory route, but can also spread by fecal-oral route.  It is even possible to become infected by touching a surface contaminated with these viruses.

  • EV-D68 causes a respiratory illness which can quickly progress from a child behaving like they have a simple runny nose and mild cough to then having serious difficulty breathing.  Children ....

Newborn screening testing in Washington

For most parents, the newborn period is a time of profound joy, incredible challenges, and LOTS of questions.  As pediatricians, some of the questions we are frequently asked are related to a simple blood test done on all infants in Washington State.  Commonly referred to as the “newborn screen” or “NBS”, “PKU”, or “newborn metabolic testing”, this test checks for several congenital disorders that are rare but can be life-threatening. 

Often parents want to know:

  • What does the test involve? The newborn screen is done by pricking the heel of the infant at around 24 hours of age, then collecting a few drops of blood onto a piece of test paper.  This is dried and then sent to the state lab, where the testing is performed.  Because some of the conditions may take several days to show up, the test is repeated at 7-14 days old (usually by your primary care doctor; it can also be done in the hospital if the baby is still there for any reason).

  • Does it hurt? The needle prick is performed by trained nurses and is done quickly.  It may feel similar to pricking your finger to test blood sugar.  And you can significantly decrease the discomfort of the quick poke by breastfeeding your baby during or immediately after the test!

  • Why do we need this? The diseases we check for are typically rare, but if undiagnosed and untreated can cause a variety of complications, including blindness, poor growth, brain damage, and even death.  The reason that testing every baby is essential is that babies with these conditions can look and act perfectly healthy even while the disease is damaging their bodies, until they get so sick they need to be hospitalized or have permanent damage.  Starting treatment as early as possible can prevent many of the complications.

  • What are you testing for? The ...

Tips for kids with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Working as a CMA (certified medical assistant) in Swedish Pediatric Gastroenterology, I have the responsibility and honor of taking care of children diagnosed with a variety of gastrointestinal problems, one of the most serious being Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).  IBD is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic intestinal inflammation.  Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis are the two main types of IBD, depending on the location and depth of inflammation in the gut. 

As I work with the families of children diagnosed with IBD, I am constantly amazed at what a complicated job they have, balancing life between a chronic illness and the challenges of “normal childhood”. 

As the school year gets off to a start, seeing how hectic life can become for most kids, I wanted to write down a few ways children with IBD might better empower themselves to gain control over their chronic disease:

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