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Keeping Kids Comfortable in the Hospital: November 14, 2012

Julie Avirett gets paid to play. Her role at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida is to bring music to young patients.

“They’re typically surprised they may ask ‘what are you doing with the guitar’ or ‘what’s a music therapist’?  Once they hear their favorite song they’re very motivated and engaged,” says Julie Avirett, music therapist with Lee Memorial Health System.

Avirett takes requests from doctors and patients.

“We get everything from ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ to Little Wayne ‘Drop the World’ and to rock music to pop, to country,” says Avirett.

Doctors also provide direction. They recognize Avirett can move children with her music, in ways they sometimes can’t.

“Maybe it’s a patient with a respiratory difficulty so I’m going to bring in the harmonica that is going to give a maximum air movement for that patient,” says Avirett.

This is part of a growing health care field and it isn't just fun and games. Child life advocates including music therapists, reduce stress and anxiety, helping children with the realities they face.
“My kids here are primarily outpatient, so I’m focusing on getting them through their procedures,” says Kathryn Davis, child life advocate.

Davis has an armful of games.

“Right now my favorite is the iPad,” says Davis.

She uses to calm children undergoing testing.

“So whether its an IV or an MRI or a CT scan or anything in radiology, whatever they’re here for, I’m here to make the hospital a little bit more normal,” says Davis.

She also calls on Avirett.

“Music therapy and I work jointly together for some of our severely delayed kids. They have no way of knowing what’s going on, so between the two of us with calming music or music that keeps the kids entertained, we can usually get the test done without sedation,” says Davis.

It’s small things that make a big difference, keeping kids comfortable in the hospital.