A Road Map to Surgery at CHOC Children’s

Having surgery at a hospital can be a scary thought for children and parents, alike.  Knowing what to expect can help alleviate fear and anxiety.  The photos below highlight some key aspects of the patient and family journey through the Tidwell Procedure Center at CHOC Children’s Hospital.

surgery at choc

Welcome to CHOC Children’s Hospital – a hospital for children and teens, only. When a child requires surgery, his needs are different than an adult. CHOC has specialized in pediatric surgery since we welcomed our first patient in 1964. Today, our nationally recognized surgeons perform the latest procedures using equipment customized to pediatric patients, from newborns to adolescents.

surgery at choc

After checking in at our first floor lobby, surgical patients and their families are directed to our Tidwell Procedure Center, which includes seven operating rooms, five procedure rooms and two cardiac catheterization labs. The Center boasts leading-edge technology and safety features, as well as a calm, healing environment. Here’s the Center’s bright, colorful lobby, featuring natural light, bubble columns and interesting artwork. There’s also a family room and playroom.

surgery at choc

We want our patients and their siblings to still have the opportunity to act like kids while facing the adult issues of surgery. In addition to a playroom in the lobby, we have an area for play, stocked with books and toys in pre-op. Dedicated child life specialists help normalize the experience by making the environment less strange. Providing distraction and developmentally appropriate education, child life specialists are important members of the surgical team.

surgery at choc

Child life specialists are at the bedside to provide developmentally appropriate education. Patients are able to see pictures of the operating rooms on iPads, which helps to limit stress and anxiety without the use of medication.

surgery at choc

Before heading into the operating room, patients stop at what is affectionately called the “kissing spot.” Here’s where they can say “see you later” to their loved ones before “taking a nap” for surgery.

surgery at choc

Child life specialists escort patients into the operating rooms and to provide distraction and emotional support while pediatric anesthesiologists and other staff members prepare patients for surgery.

surgery at choc

Following surgery, patients recover in our PACU (post anesthesia care unit). As soon as the patient is stabilized, parents/legal guardians are escorted into the area. During this time, patients need as much rest as possible to help their bodies heal and give pain medication time to take effect. The environment is kept calm and quiet. From here, the patient will either be taken to a hospital room, or discharged home.

Our physicians, nurses and staff are dedicated to getting kids better and back to their normal activities as quickly as possible. Patients and families are our partners in this effort; knowing what to expect before, during and after surgery can make a big difference on the experience and recovery. For more information, visit www.choc.org/surgery.

Take a virtual tour of the Tidwell Procedure Center

Related posts:

 

Child Life Supports Family on Hospital Journey

Two-year-old Aliyah Islava was fighting what her family thought was a mild stomach virus. When the symptoms did not improve, mom Rosemary took her, at the recommendation of her pediatrician, to the emergency department. Within 24 hours, Aliyah was undergoing brain surgery at CHOC Children’s Hospital.

The diagnosis of stage 4 medulloblastoma, a fast-growing, aggressive brain tumor, shocked Rosemary and her husband Hector and propelled the entire family, including Aliya’s siblings Branden, 10, and Miranda, 5, on a life-changing journey. The family had the support of the entire CHOC care team, which to their surprise included the Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Department.

Trained professionals with degrees in child life, child development, human development or recreation therapy, CHOC’s child life specialists strive to normalize the hospital environment for patients and their families. They help make things like medical equipment and procedures feel less strange so that patients and their families feel more at ease in the hospital.

Rosemary recalls with fondness the first time she met Ashley, an oncology child life specialist, shortly after Aliyah was admitted.

“Everything was happening so fast. We were in shock and terrified. Ashley helped explain everything and calmed our fears. She also explained to our other two children what was happening, so we could focus on Aliyah,” says Rosemary.

Aliyah spent almost seven months in the hospital. Child life specialists used distraction techniques and medical play to help her every step of the way. They also helped Branden and Miranda by continuing to explain what was going on with their little sister and giving them opportunities for play.

“Child life helped normalize the entire experience for Aliyah, Branden and Miranda, and made sure they didn’t miss out on just being kids. Even more amazing, they were never afraid, not even Aliyah,” says Rosemary.

A big part of childhood is birthday parties. Aliyah was very ill in the oncology intensive care unit when she was about to turn 3. Rosemary wasn’t sure her daughter would be permitted out of the unit. But as soon as Aliyah got clearance from the doctors for a short visit to the playroom, child life organized an impromptu birthday celebration.

“I will never forget the party that child life planned. In a short amount of time, they managed to make a poster, collect presents and sing to her,” remembers Rosemary.

Following Aliyah’s last chemotherapy treatment, more than a year after her diagnosis, child life specialists sang once again; this time, “Happy Last Chemo.”  They continue to support Aliyah today as she faces additional health challenges. Most recently, a child life specialist accompanied Aliyah into the operating room. Aliyah didn’t even need medication to keep her calm. She was comforted knowing child life was by her side, says Rosemary.

“Their patience, their understanding, their compassion…these are just some of the things that make child life specialists so unique,” she explains. “They bring you hope and step in when we as parents are overcome by worry and fear. I am very thankful for having them as part of our journey.”

Related posts:

  • A Road Map to Surgery at CHOC Children’s
    A photo road map showing key aspects of the patient and family journey through the Tidwell Procedure Center at CHOC Children’s Hospital.
  • CHOC Celebrates Child Life Week
    The Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Department at CHOC Children’s strives to normalize the hospital environment for our patients and families.
  • Meet the Pet Therapy Team: Magnolia
    Magnolia became a pet therapy dog after her grandpa lost his sight, and her family found that her presence was a great comfort to him. Now she brings smiles and ...

CHOC Celebrates Child Life Week

The Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Department at CHOC Children’s strives to normalize the hospital environment for our patients and families. “Normalizing” the hospital experience is the process of making things like medical equipment and procedures feel less strange or foreign. By doing this, patients and their family members can feel more at ease while at the hospital and will be able to focus on what is most important: feeling better.

Patients, families and staff were treated to a week-long celebration of special activities and visitors. Take a look inside the specialized therapeutic programs that are just one part of this special area of CHOC.





Learn more about CHOC's child life services




Related posts:

  • A Road Map to Surgery at CHOC Children’s
    A photo road map showing key aspects of the patient and family journey through the Tidwell Procedure Center at CHOC Children’s Hospital.
  • Child Life Supports Family on Hospital Journey
    Aliyah was fighting what her family thought was a mild stomach virus. Within 24 hours, she was undergoing brain surgery at CHOC Children’s. The diagnosis of a fast-growing, aggressive brain ...
  • Meet the Pet Therapy Team: Magnolia
    Magnolia became a pet therapy dog after her grandpa lost his sight, and her family found that her presence was a great comfort to him. Now she brings smiles and ...

Meet the Pet Therapy Team: Magnolia

Stacey always had a soft spot for animals, dogs in particular. She had a family dog growing up, but never imagined they could be anything more than a beloved family pet. That all changed when her dad lost his vision 15 years ago.

Magnolia, a friendly and energetic golden retriever, joined her family shortly thereafter. The puppy immediately took a liking to Stacey’s father, who found that the dog’s energy lifted his spirits and comforted him.

“We could see how she made him feel. He didn’t know that the rest of our family would stare at the two of them together, but we could see it working,” Stacey says. “Being around animals can be soothing for many people. It’s nice to see her be able to give that love away to people. It’s a very simple thing to put a dog on a bed, but it can have a powerful impact.”

pet therapy
Magnolia posing with her mom Stacey who is a CHOC volunteer, and her grandpa who was the inspiration behind her becoming a pet therapy dog.

Her father was already familiar with the pet therapy program at CHOC Children’s, and urged Stacey to pursue it as a “career” for Magnolia. As part of The Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Department, not only does the pet therapy program aim to minimize stress and anxiety for patients at CHOC, but it also offers a “normal-life” experience that lets hospitalized kids be kids.

“My dad knew how much time I love spending with Magnolia, and we had the opportunity to give back. CHOC saved my life when I got spinal meningitis at age four, and joining the pet therapy program is my way of giving back,” says Stacey, who still has the Choco bear she was given as a patient 43 years ago.

All pet therapy dogs at CHOC are extensively trained, and then later certified by Pet Partners, a national organization that registers the human/pet team once they pass an obedience test.

Having been a teacher for over 25 years, Stacey was familiar with sticking to a lesson plan and providing special one-on-one tutoring for a student needing extra help with a tricky subject. She just never imagined that her student would be her dog! She did all of Magnolia’s training leading up to her obedience test.

Now a certified pet therapy dog and proud member of the CHOC team, Magnolia makes 24 visits per year to CHOC Children’s Hospital. She spends her time at CHOC visiting patients in various inpatient units and the emergency department, but is on her best behavior whenever one of those patients happens to be one of Stacey’s kindergarten students.

“Magnolia is very different at the hospital than she is at home or with the kids in our neighborhood,” Stacey says. “She is energetic and silly at home. But as soon as she goes through the front doors of CHOC, she knows she is at work. She knows it is time to be mellow and calm.”

When she’s not at work, Magnolia enjoys running leash-free in the desert; shopping at dog-friendly malls; and watching bunnies, squirrels and ducks.





Learn more about CHOC's child life services




Related posts:

  • A Road Map to Surgery at CHOC Children’s
    A photo road map showing key aspects of the patient and family journey through the Tidwell Procedure Center at CHOC Children’s Hospital.
  • Child Life Supports Family on Hospital Journey
    Aliyah was fighting what her family thought was a mild stomach virus. Within 24 hours, she was undergoing brain surgery at CHOC Children’s. The diagnosis of a fast-growing, aggressive brain ...
  • CHOC Celebrates Child Life Week
    The Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Department at CHOC Children’s strives to normalize the hospital environment for our patients and families.

Cherese Mari Laulhere Foundation Donates $5 Million to CHOC Children’s Child Life Department

When sick or injured children and teens are hospitalized, it can be a scary and stressful experience for their entire family. The child life team at CHOC Children’s strives to normalize the hospital experience so patients can focus on what’s most important: feeling better. The Cherese Mari Laulhere Foundation has made a generous $5 million gift to support the work of trained child life specialists who provide specialized programs such as education, music therapy, art therapy, pet therapy and even yoga. The Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Department at CHOC Children’s will continue to integrate therapeutic services and specialized programs into care delivered at CHOC.

Larry and Chris Laulhere, longtime residents of Long Beach, lost their daughter Cherese in 1996. She was attending UCLA when she joined the Semester at Sea abroad program in her junior year. She planned to spend 100 days traveling the world, balancing full-time study with field trips that supported her education endeavors. Sadly Cherese’s life was tragically taken in a bus accident in India during her travels when she was just 21 years old. An avid philanthropist at a young age, Cherese was passionate about helping children, volunteering at local hospitals, and making a difference in her community. The foundation named in her memory provides much-needed funds to charitable organizations, such as CHOC, that reflect Cherese’s dedication to enriching the lives of children. This is the largest donation ever given by the Cherese Mari Laulhere Foundation.

Cherese Mari Laulhere child life department
Cherese Mari Laulhere

CHOC: How does supporting the child life department at CHOC honor your daughter’s memory?

Larry and Chris Laulhere: Supporting CHOC’s child life department and the inspiring ways its specialists and programs positively impact patients and families each and every day is a wonderful tribute to our daughter and her dream to make the world a better place for children. We think about Cherese every day, especially on her birthday, September 17 and also on holidays. We know the pain of not being able to celebrate these occasions with our daughter, and we want to help ensure other families don’t miss out on these types of celebrations due to a hospital stay. The child life team helps ensure patients and families do not miss out on celebrating birthdays, holidays, proms, graduation and other special events due to a hospital stay.

CHOC: What aspect of the child life department are you most passionate about?

LCL: The entire department is incredible. From art and music therapy to Seacrest Studios, child life offers hospitalized children positive distractions that help them focus on what matters most: being kids. Patients see all of the child life activities as playtime, but we know that everything is therapeutic and intended to support children’s emotional, developmental and psychological well-being. In addition to the support given to the patients, child life specialists are also there for siblings. We can’t say enough about CHOC’s child life department and are so pleased to have it named in our daughter’s honor.

CHOC:  What qualities of your daughter do you see in child life specialists?

LCL: Cherese poured her heart and soul into everything she did and every interaction she had with people. She was compassionate and sincere. She was beautiful inside and out. We see so much of that kind, giving spirit in the child life specialists. These are special health care professionals who go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of young patients and their families.

Learn more about the Cherese Mari Laulhere Foundation.

Related posts:

  • A Road Map to Surgery at CHOC Children’s
    A photo road map showing key aspects of the patient and family journey through the Tidwell Procedure Center at CHOC Children’s Hospital.
  • Child Life Supports Family on Hospital Journey
    Aliyah was fighting what her family thought was a mild stomach virus. Within 24 hours, she was undergoing brain surgery at CHOC Children’s. The diagnosis of a fast-growing, aggressive brain ...
  • CHOC Celebrates Child Life Week
    The Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Department at CHOC Children’s strives to normalize the hospital environment for our patients and families.

CHOC Toy Drive December 17

Community members wishing to spread holiday cheer to CHOC Children’s patients and families are invited to participate in CHOC’s annual toy drive. The event will be held Saturday, Dec. 17 from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. outside our employee parking structure, located at 557 S. Main St. in Orange.

Due to limited storage space, gift cards are encouraged, to places such as: Target, Toys “R” Us, Wal-Mart, Michael’s and Amazon.  Visa gift cards are also appreciated, as are grocery store or gas station gift cards that can be distributed to families in need. Gift cards allow trained child life specialists to hand-select toys, games and activities that best meet the needs of our patients.

Those wishing to donate toys are encouraged to view our wish list prior to the toy drive and choose from items our child life specialists find most appropriate and popular among our diverse family and patient population. Donors are encouraged to sort and box their gifts before delivery.

“We do everything we can to make this time of year very special and festive for our patients who have to spend the holidays in the hospital,” says Stephanie Chami, manager of CHOC’s child life department. “Every day of the year, child life specialists strive to normalize the hospital experience for kids and teens, and these gifts are just one way we keep patients encouraged and engaged.”

Community members unable to participate in the toy drive can view the hospital’s wish list via our Amazon registry by searching Children’s Hospital of Orange County. Donations will be shipped directly to CHOC. During the month of December we are unable to accept donations in the main hospital lobby.

Due to infection control guidelines, all donated items must be new. We are unfortunately not able to accept used toys, handmade items or stuffed animals.

Related posts:

  • Keeping Little Ones Safe This Holiday Season
    The holiday season can be one of the busiest times of year for families. Keeping these safety tips from CHOC’s community educators in mind can help ensure your family stays ...
  • Dealing with Food Allergies Around the Holidays
    The holiday season is a festive time, but can present unique challenges for children with food allergies and their parents. We spoke to Vanessa Chrisman, a clinical pediatric dietitian at ...
  • Tis the Season for Healthy Holiday Eating
    By Lindsay Rypkema, registered dietitian at CHOC Children’s The holidays are a time filled with family, friends and food. It is important for parents to model good eating habits as well ...

CHOC Celebrates Child Life Week

The team of child life specialists at CHOC Children’s strives to “normalize” the hospital environment for patients and families. By making things like medical procedures and equipment less foreign,  patients can focus on what’s important: feeling better.

Their work includes surgery preparation and support; therapeutic medical play; new diagnosis education and support; developmental stimulation; sibling support; and specialized therapeutic programs like pet, art and music therapy.

This week, during Child Life Week, CHOC celebrates our fabulous and dynamic child life team, and the role they play in our commitment to patient and family-centered care. Watch this video for a glimpse into CHOC’s child life services.

Learn more about the child life department.

Related articles:

  • A Road Map to Surgery at CHOC Children’s
    A photo road map showing key aspects of the patient and family journey through the Tidwell Procedure Center at CHOC Children’s Hospital.
  • Child Life Supports Family on Hospital Journey
    Aliyah was fighting what her family thought was a mild stomach virus. Within 24 hours, she was undergoing brain surgery at CHOC Children’s. The diagnosis of a fast-growing, aggressive brain ...
  • CHOC Celebrates Child Life Week
    The Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Department at CHOC Children’s strives to normalize the hospital environment for our patients and families.

Toy Drive to Support CHOC Children’s Patients, Families Dec.19

CHOC is grateful for the support of our community, especially during the holiday season as people wish to remember our patients and families. Our annual holiday toy drive will be held Saturday, Dec. 19 from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. in our employee parking structure, located at 557 South Main Street, Orange, CA 92868. We are unable to accept donations in the main hospital lobby.

Due to limited storage space, the donation of gift cards is encouraged. This enables our trained child life specialists to purchase toys and craft supplies based on the developmental age and gender of our current patients. Gift cards to stores such as Target, Toys “R” Us, Babies “R” Us, Walmart, Michaels, Barnes & Noble, and Visa/MasterCard gift cards are greatly appreciated.

Those wishing to donate toys can refer to our Wish List to choose from the items we find the most appropriate and popular with CHOC’s diverse patient and family population. We are always in need of more activities for our teen population.

Community members unable to participate in the toy drive but interested in donating can log on to www.amazon.com and search for the “Children’s Hospital of Orange County” wish list. Donations will be shipped directly to CHOC.

Please note that we are unable to accept the following items:

  • Stuffed animals
  • Handmade blankets, hats, socks, etc.
  • Get well cards
  • Big items: bikes, skate boards, etc.
  • VHS tapes
  • Used toys
  • Clothing
  • Promotional items with company logos

For more information, please call 714-509-4519.

Thank you for your continued support of CHOC Children’s!

Preparing Your Child for Surgery

Surgery is scary for kids and parents, alike, but not talking about an upcoming surgical procedure can create more fear and anxiety in children. In episode number 29, Child Life Specialist Brianne Ortiz offers tips for preparing children, from toddlers to teens, for surgery.

The amount of information, in addition to how and when it’s presented, depends on the emotional and cognitive age of the child. Brianne recommends parents speak to children, ages 3 to 5, approximately three to five days before the scheduled surgery. These younger-aged children often think they’ve done something wrong, so it’s important to reassure them that’s not the case and to present information in concrete terms they understand. She reminds parents that toddlers don’t have a concept of time. Instead of saying a procedure will last an hour, for example, explain that it will be over in about the same time as their favorite TV show.

Adolescents most often worry about waking up during surgery and about pain. Brianne educates teens on the role of the anesthesiologist and the hospital’s pain scale. She encourages teens to engage with their care team and not be afraid to speak up.

Listen to the episode for more helpful tips, including resources offered by CHOC.

CHOC Radio theme music by Pat Jacobs.

Related posts:

  • The Importance of a Pediatric Surgeon
    Children are not just “little adults” and when possible, should be treated by a physician who is specially trained in pediatrics. Their physiology is different, and since they’re still developing, ...
  • Will Your Newborn Need Surgery? Plan Now
    The news comes as a shock, usually during the first prenatal ultrasound between the 16th and 20th week of pregnancy. Treatment planning, however, cannot begin too soon when a developing ...
  • Matthew’s Story: Healing in the Surgical NICU
    Grace Wu beams as she watches her son Matthew smiling and happy after enjoying his bottle. “It’s good to see him so happy and active,” she says. “That he could do ...

Tips for coping with hospitalization with Chloe Krikac

From pet therapy to Seacrest Studios, CHOC Children’s offers a host of amenities to help children cope with their hospitalization. The child life department plays a key role in normalizing the hospital environment by making things like medical equipment and procedures feel less strange.

In this CHOC Radio segment, Child Life Specialist Chloe Krikac shares a little about the support provided to patients and families, in addition to offering tips to parents. Bringing comfort items, such as a favorite pillowcase or stuffed animal, and family photos is one suggestion Chloe offers parents and caregivers to help children feel more “at home” in the hospital. Although developmental age and health condition impact what information is provided to a child, the approach is the same: making sure patients understand why they are in the hospital and how the doctors and nurses are going to help them get better.

For more tips, listen to episode number 31 of CHOC Radio.

CHOC Radio theme music by Pat Jacobs.

Related posts:

  • A Road Map to Surgery at CHOC Children’s
    A photo road map showing key aspects of the patient and family journey through the Tidwell Procedure Center at CHOC Children’s Hospital.
  • Child Life Supports Family on Hospital Journey
    Aliyah was fighting what her family thought was a mild stomach virus. Within 24 hours, she was undergoing brain surgery at CHOC Children’s. The diagnosis of a fast-growing, aggressive brain ...
  • CHOC Celebrates Child Life Week
    The Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Department at CHOC Children’s strives to normalize the hospital environment for our patients and families.