A toy story: Donor support leads to positive outcomes and better experiences for children who need to visit the emergency room

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A toy story: Donor support leads to positive outcomes and better experiences for children who need to visit the emergency room


Small items. Big difference. New toys and activities funded by the Centra Foundation’s Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Fund help children focus on something other than their pain and fears. They also play an instrumental role in positive outcomes.

Anyone who has ever been with a child in an emergency room knows that time and emotions can feel different there. Moments can seem to race – or drag. Anxiety can skyrocket.

Distractions are welcomed and sometimes even necessary for young patients. Fortunately, simple toys can make a world of difference.

Thanks to donor support, children who need to visit Centra Lynchburg General Hospital’s ER and receive pediatric care can focus on something other their pain and fear about what’s going to happen next. Fidget spinners, card games, colorful magnetic tiles, puzzles and light projectors that play soothing music are some of the tools caregivers now have available to help them deliver highly individualized and creative care.

“These toys are so beneficial in helping to keep our pediatric patients calm while they are being cared for in the emergency room,” said Suzy Alonso, BSN, RN, CPEN, a nurse who has worked in the ER for the past four years. “They can also help to create a positive outcome for procedures. I am so grateful.”

A few instances stand out for Suzy:

  • A fidget spinner helped quell the anxiety of a 6-year-old who needed an IV. “Thanks to the Centra Foundation, we were able to use a fidget spinner to distract her,” Suzy said. “We were successful and had no need for any additional medication.”
     
  • A projector with soothing music helped calm a 2-year-old who needed a laceration repair to her face. “The atmosphere in the room is so important in helping a pediatric patient’s anxiety levels, and this light with soothing music helped make a scary situation much more manageable for the patient and her mom,” Suzy said. “The light even helped me so I could be a non-anxious presence for her.”
     
  • Puzzles, card games and magnetic tiles helped a 9-year-old entertain himself during his extensive ER stay.
     
  • Magnetic tiles helped a 14-year-old mental health patient.

“These are just a few examples,” Suzy said. “We are also very grateful for the small prizes that we are able to give after a difficult procedure.

“All of these items have been instrumental in helping us care for our pediatric patients.”