Thrive by IU Health

July 23, 2021

Child Life specialists save the day

IU Health Arnett Hospital

Child Life specialists save the day

When the O’Hern family drives by IU Health Arnett Hospital, five-year old Mimi will wave hello to her friends Olivia and Mollie and the doctors and nurses of the emergency department. No one else is addressed by name, just her friends Olivia and Mollie.

To Mimi, they are her friends. For her mother, Milissa O’Hern they are life savers.

Olivia Rauschenbach and Mollie Lane are child life specialists at IU Health Arnett Hospital. Certified Child Life specialists are educated and clinically trained in the developmental impact of illness and injury on children. Their role helps improve patient and family care, satisfaction and overall experience.

“Children confront a wide variety of stressful and potentially traumatic events that can impact their ability to cope,” explained Rauschenbach. “A trip to the hospital can lead to feelings of fear, confusion, loss of control and isolation that can inhibit their development and have negative effects on their physical and emotional well-being.”

Maitlen O’Hern, who only answers to Mimi, was born with a host of birth defects including spina bifida and heart disease. She was born at IU Health Methodist Hospital and LifeLined three times to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. She was twelve weeks old before she was allowed to go home with oxygen and a heart monitor. Her outcome was questionable. For the staff at Riley and Arnett there was one goal, to get her to her first birthday so she could have the open-heart surgery that might save her life. She had that surgery on Valentines’ Day 2018. Mimi is what is described as medically fragile. Her mom says she is the most determined little person ever.

O’Hern describes their frequent trips to the emergency department as frustrating, “You always have to defend your position and explain that you know what you are talking about – but Olivia waltz in and makes it all right.”

Mimi is catheterized so she suffers urinary tract infections often which require a trip the emergency department at IU Health Arnett. Her course of treatment is determined by her specialist at Riley. O’Hern describes the child life specialists as the bridge. “With everything that is going on during a visit, your child still wants and needs your attention. Olivia and Mollie know Mimi and are always prepared to entertain her and help answer questions so I can just be mom.”

Mimi’s favorite distraction is the Vecta machine because she “needs her music to relax.” She typically loves every minute of everything.

Vectra and Mimi

O’Hern has served as a foster mom to nine medically fragile children. She has adopted two of them, 8-year-old Katrina and Mimi. She says Katrina was the boost her heart needed to welcome Mimi. A very wise Katrina doesn’t let her little sister off easy. When Mimi cries that she needs help to get out of bed, Katrina will march in and tell her “Get out of bed. I haven’t even seen you try today.”

“I have always had complete faith in the team at the emergency department of IU Health Arnett. Oliva and Mollie just add another layer of quality.”

Mimi says that her friends Olivia and Mollie need more Barbie's, action figures, Legos, baby dolls and art supplies and she is on a mission to help.

To support child life specialists like Olivia and Mollie at IU Health Arnett, click here ( Under location, select IU Health Arnett Hospital. Once prompted, select other under please direct my gift to and type FUND 6114: Pediatrics at IU Health Arnett. For additional questions, contact Adrian Brendel, IU Health Foundation development officer at or 765.412.9189.

Mimi collage

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