Taking the Sting Out of the ER: December 17, 2012

Joanne Carter’s 12-year-old daughter would rather be anywhere but here.

“I remember when she was an infant it used to take three of us to hold her down to get her shots,” says Joanne Carter, mother.

But here she is, in the pediatric emergency department of Golisano Children’s Hospital at HealthPark Medical Center.  Getting stuck by a needle is still one of the biggest sticking points for kids.

“We have a number of topical agents that we use when they’re appropriate, depending on age or different types of injuries,” says Jennifer Neill, child life specialist with Golisano Children’s Hospital.

As a child life specialist, it’s Neill’s job to try and make children comfortable while they’re here.

“Hospitals are scary. A lot of things happen in hospitals that aren’t always explained to kids. So if we bring it down to their level, based on their development and cognitive development it helps them to better cope with what’s going on,” says Neill.

When a child comes to the ER their anxiety level is usually high. What happens next shapes not only this visit but they respond in the future.

“Our ultimate goal is to make things as painless as possible. People are going to come back to the emergency department or the hospital throughout their lives and if we can make it less traumatic throughout the stay, then it’s going to be easier for them throughout their lives,” says Neill.

Many times it comes down to hand holding and talking kids through the procedures. Mom, Joanne found it made a difference.

“It’s a scary to not feel well and not know what’s going to happen to you. So to have an advocate to look out for your needs and your best interest and educating you on what’s going to happen next is vitally important,” says Carter.

Addressing pain and stress, can take the sting out of the ER.