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

Abigail Schmidt

Abigail Schmidt
Certified Child Life Specialist

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 ...

How to prepare your child for a stay at the hospital

Audrey Fuhrer

Audrey Fuhrer
Certified Child Life Specialist

We all know that Swedish provides top-notch pediatric services for the emergent needs of children and their families.  You may be surprised to find out that many children come to Swedish for a planned inpatient stay as well.  There can be various reasons why a child and their family might be anticipating a hospital stay.  Some examples may include having a surgical procedure that requires them to be monitored for a set period of time afterward, neurological video monitoring, or medical preparations for a procedure the following day.

Regardless of what service your child will be receiving at the hospital, there are ways in which you can better prepare them and yourself for what to expect during your stay.

At Swedish, Child Life Specialists help children and families cope with the hospital process.  Child Life Specialists are available to help educate and prepare children and families prior to surgery and/or an inpatient stay.  Some tips on how to prepare your child for an inpatient stay include .....

Helping kids heal with music and technology

Nicole Roehrig, MSN, RN

Nicole Roehrig, MSN, RN
Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist

A young girl is cowering in the corner - it is the first day her care-taker has left her side. She has backed herself into a corner as far from anyone as possible. She appears to be filled with anxiety. Staff members and nurses try calming her, but nothing seems to work.

With her back turned, the little girl doesn’t notice a young man entering the room. He is holding a tool, one of which the full power and potential is still unknown to most. Even though he has witnessed its abilities before, what happens next still takes even him by surprise.

Not knowing what to say, he says nothing at all. He lifts his instrument and strikes the first chord. The girl stops. He continues to play. The girl turns and slides to the floor. The young man sinks to his knees, the same level as the girl. Strumming his ukulele the young man begins to sing. The little girl begins to scoot herself across the floor, 20 feet to where the young man kneels, closer and closer until her knees touch his.

There are gasps coming from the doorway, as a handful of hospital staff and nurses witness to an amazing transformation. In a flip of a switch, the little girl went from utter anxiety to calm and happy, soothed by the sound of music. As the young man finishes his song, the little girl smiles, reaches out her hand to touch his, then falls back, smiling and laughing.


This is the story of Melodic Caring Project Founder, Levi Ware, on his most recent visit to provide live music to pediatric patients at Swedish First Hill.

“I've been playing music for a long time and I've seen a lot of amazing things happen when music is introduced into certain situations. What happened on the Pediatric Unit at Swedish was one of the most wonderful, beautiful and undeniably powerful music experiences I've had.  ...

How to give safe gifts to children during the holidays

Elizabeth Meade, MD

Elizabeth Meade, MD
Pediatric Hospitalist

As the holidays approach, parents often wonder what toys are safe for their little ones.  When making your list and checking it twice, here are some tips to ensure that toys are appropriate for the age and developmental stage of your giftees.

For younger children/infants:

  • Make sure all parts are larger than the child’s mouth.  Most children age 3 and under consistently put toys in their mouth, and some older children do as well.  A small-parts tester, or “no-choke tube” is about the size of a small child’s airway and can be purchased to test parts if you are unsure.  If a part or toy fits inside the tube, it’s too small to be safe.
  • When buying stuffed toys, look for embroidered or secured parts rather than pieces (such as eyes or noses) that could be removed and swallowed.  Remove all loose strings and ribbons.  Avoid animals with stuffing made of small pellets or material that could cause choking. Be aware that stuffed toys given away at carnivals, fairs, or in vending machines are not required to meet safety standards, so be especially careful with these!
  • When buying hanging toys for cribs, ensure that the child cannot grab any portion, and that strings or wires are short.  These types of toys should be removed when the infant can push up onto his or her hands and knees.
  • Keep plush toys and loose, soft bedding out of the cribs of infants and young children as these can cause suffocation.

For all children:

  • Look for labeling on the package that indicates what ages the toy is appropriate for.  Remember that this doesn’t have to do with how smart your child is, it is based on physical and developmental skills for his or her age group and should be followed.
  • Ensure that batteries are  ....

Handling stress with kids in the hospital

Jennifer Casperson RN, MSN, CPN

As the back to school sales begin, we are reminded that soon our kids will be back on the bus and returning to school routines.  As adults we may look forward to the return of a consistent routine or dread the increased activity that comes with sports, homework and friends.  For our children school can be both exciting and anxiety producing as well.

Stress can be a contributor to many illnesses and is something that we all can use help managing. (Want to find out how much you know about stress and your kids? Take this 5 question quiz here.) The questions bring up some great ways to manage stress daily for our kids; but what about the stresses of chronic illness or hospitalization?  What can you do for your child to decrease their anxiety in the hospital?

Mother Nature’s Role in Healing Our Children

Dinesh Thekke-Karumathil, MD

Dinesh Thekke-Karumathil, MD
Pediatric Hospitalist

I am a pediatric hospitalist. That is, I am a pediatrician who takes care of children sick enough to be hospitalized. So my writing about the importance of children spending time outdoors and enjoying nature might be surprising. Even though I may only take care of a child for the worst few days of their life, I am still quite passionate about the fundamental role of outdoor play in a child’s health and well-being.

Even during acute illness, I find that children often heal faster when they are given more opportunities to be playful and (illness-allowing) go outdoors to allow Mother Nature to heal them from within. So needless to say, I am often amazed at how little exposure many of these children have had, even prior to becoming ill, to spend time playing outdoors and getting to know their environment.

Now especially, as the days begin to get longer, and the refreshing spring air returns to our beautiful Pacific Northwest, I start thinking about all the wonderful outdoor fun I used to have as a child, and the importance such activities had on my own health and overall sense of well-being.

I worry that children of today encounter ....

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