Going to the hospital can be a frightening experience. It is full of strange sights, sounds, smells, and unfamiliar people. To help ease the stress, Overland Park Regional Medical Center offers child life services for children, teens, and families. The goal of the child life program is to provide a supportive environment where children can gain a better understanding of the hospital, surgery, and medical treatments.

Child life specialists are trained to address the emotional needs of hospitalized children and adolescents. They use play and age-appropriate activities to create a comfortable environment in which children can express their fears and concerns. Our child life specialists provide:

  • Opportunities for play and expressive activities to normalize the environment and encourage normal development.
  • Prepare children for medical procedures, surgery, diagnoses and treatment using language that children understand.
  • Introduce coping strategies to help reduce anxiety and enhance cooperation with the health care team.
  • Provide support and distraction during medical procedures.
  • Promote family-centered care by providing information, advocacy and support to families of pediatric patients.
  • Provide bereavement support to families.

Child Life Specialists at Overland Park Regional Medical Center

  • Child life specialists enhance a patient’s emotional, social and cognitive growth during a hospital stay, giving special consideration to each child’s family, culture and individual stage of development.
  • Using developmental interventions and play, child life specialists help patients and families understand and adjust to their medical situation during a hospital stay.
  • Help patients develop ways to cope with fear, anxiety, separation and adjustment to the hospital experience.
  • Provide consultation to the health care team regarding developmental and psycho-social issues.
  • Provide preparation and individualized support before and after medical procedures.
  • Facilitate developmentally appropriate play – including medical play – at the bedside, in activity rooms and in clinic areas.
  • Work with siblings of patients to help them understand the hospital experience.

Professional Qualifications

Each child life specialist holds a bachelor or master degree in child development, psychology or a related area. Furthermore, all child life specialists have completed a child life internship in the hospital setting and are professionally certified through the national Child Life Council.

Areas staffed:

  • General pediatric floor
  • Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
  • Pediatric Ambulatory Surgery Unit/Pediatric Pre-op
  • Pediatric sedation
  • Pediatric emergency department
  • Consults in NICU and adult units