Thrive by IU Health

February 27, 2023

Easing the stress of an Emergency department visit

IU Health Arnett Hospital

Easing the stress of an Emergency department visit

A trip to the Emergency department is stressful enough for adults. Just imagine being a six-year-old child brought in by ambulance.

Kindergartner Isabelle Manuel had a seizure at school, which got her that very first ambulance ride to her very first visit in the Emergency department — a terrifying experience.

Isabelle Manuel

Isabelle’s parents arrived shortly after, as did Certified Child Life Specialist Mollie Henderson, CCLS, CPST, BS, who knows that coping with illness, injury and treatment is often challenging and stressful for children and their families.

“Mollie was there immediately,” shares mom Jill Manuel. “She was chatting with Isabelle about her likes and dislikes. She brought Isabelle a toy and took the time to explain what was happening.”

A child life specialist like Henderson is a healthcare provider who works with a child during a medical challenge or hospitalization to ensure the child’s life remains as normal as possible. Child life specialist help ease discomfort and teach coping skills through play, preparation, education and self-expression.

“Not only did Mollie put Isabelle at ease, quite frankly, she helped us as parents feel comfortable,” adds Manuel.

A child life specialist can teach a child about health issues that affect them. This includes explaining the procedures in a way the child can understand. It may also mean distracting a child during a procedure.

Henderson helped distract Isabelle while her IV was put into place. She helped her to understand what to expect with her CT scan and how happy thoughts would make it go faster.

“As Mollie got to know more about Isabelle’s likes and dislikes, she was bringing more specific items related to Isabelle’s personality,” says Manuel. “By the time we left seven hours later, Isabelle had six new toys.”

Manuel wanted to know how the child life specialist had the toys to give to the children, like Isabelle. Henderson shared more about the Child Life program at Arnett and that they do accept donations.

Mollie Henderson
Mollie Henderson with donations

A week after leaving the hospital, mom and daughter had a shopping trip, and Isabelle picked out new toys to donate to the Child Life program.

“We wanted to help other families have the same experience we had,” explains Manuel.

How you can contribute

The Child Life Program at IU Health Arnett has an Amazon wish list.

If you would like to make a monetary donation to the Child Life Program at IU Health Arnett, visit the IU Health Foundation page. 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.