When 5-year-old Taylor Ho landed face down rollerblading, she and her mom Jennifer found themselves at CHOC at Mission Hospital. Several of Taylor’s front teeth were pushed under her gums, which were split open, as was her lip. The little daredevil was facing her first surgery. Jennifer, on the other hand, had plenty of experience in the hospital. In fact, she is a pediatric hospitalist at CHOC, working at the healthcare system’s two hospitals.
That day, as her daughter was in pre-op awaiting oral surgery with Dr. Stephen Vaughan, Jennifer was experiencing the hospital from a different perspective: that of a mother.
“It was an odd, out-of-body experience for me. I was not the one in control. It was unnerving having to place my faith in others, even though I knew Taylor was in the best hands,” recalls Jennifer.
Jennifer’s anxiety began to diminish after witnessing her daughter’s interaction with Felice Olguin, the child life specialist.
“Felice explained everything that was going to happen in a way Taylor could understand. She kept her calm and distracted; Taylor didn’t even feel the IV going in,” she explains.
In addition to tending to their young patient’s medical needs, the pre-op staff worked to normalize the experience by bringing in elements of play; in Taylor’s case, stuffed animals and a fun blanket. The team also let her bring her beloved “pink bunny,” a favorite of hers since she was a baby, into the operating room.
Taylor was in surgery for an hour. Several of her baby teeth were removed. Her gums and lip were repaired. She’s healing great, says Jennifer.
Jennifer is grateful for the care her daughter received, and appreciative of how the experience enhanced her ability to empathize with her own patients’ parents.
Just days after her accident landed her in the emergency department, Taylor was back on her beloved roller blades with a smile on her face.
“At CHOC, we pride ourselves on patient-and-family-centered care. Now, however, I bring a different perspective to discussions I have with parents, especially when it comes to what to expect. And, no matter how minor an injury or illness may be, medically speaking, it’s a big deal to a parent,” shares Jennifer.
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