Child Life Discover

2017 Issue 2
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Child Life Services in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit

The Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department has expanded services to the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU), where Certified Child Life Specialist Jamie Siegel assists patients and families in coping during their hospitalization. Jamie focuses on enhancing patient and family experiences in the EMU, from the beginning of their admission to their discharge. Patients who are admitted to the EMU are monitored with a video EEG monitoring, which require leads to be placed on the patient’s head. Jamie provides preparation for the lead placement as well as procedural support during the actual placement. Patients are often given a stuffed bear with a similar “special hat” to help familiarize and prepare them for the procedure. Other important techniques to improve coping during their stay include providing alternative focus (i.e. singing songs, games or a providing a sensory item) to help patients remain still while the technician places the leads on their head. Child Life is an essential part of the interdisciplinary EMU team working with EEG technicians, nurses, residents and neurologists to minimize stress and anxiety. Toni Kavanagh, CNRN says “Jamie has become an integral part of our team.  She is key to ensuring patient/parent comfort in this environment”.

Child Life also works to help support the families and encourages caregivers to become involved in procedural support for their child. Jamie works with families to teach them about comfort positioning to help make the procedure easier for their child. Other Child Life services available include bedside activities, KidZone TV, the Child Life Playroom located on the 4th floor, and the Family Resource Center located on the 1st floor. The Playroom has been specially modified to include cameras that can monitor EMU patients while in the space. Jamie notes how often she is inspired by the resiliency she notices in patients when they are appropriately prepared and allowed opportunities to play, and states “I am amazed at how many smiles I see everyday in the hospital!”



Kravis Children's Hospital Takes Part in Safety Simulation

The Kravis Children’s Hospital at Mount Sinai was one of ten New York state hospitals participating in the “NYS SPS Family Engagement in Safety Simulation Symposium” on Friday June 2nd.  Located at the New York Simulation Center (NYSIM), the symposium brought family engagement to the forefront of six simulation sessions featuring HAC work, Safety Culture, and difficult conversations around safety.  The Mount Sinai planning team of Steve Yung MD, Sheemon Zackai MD, Diane Rode CCLS/LCAT, Cheryl Strauss, CCLS, Morgan Stojanowski, CCLS and Family Engagement Coordinator Jo Murray collaborated with Stonybrook University Hospital to develop one of the HAC simulation scenarios.
Throughout the symposium, front line staff, family members, and leaders from each of the participating hospitals rotated through the dynamic simulation scenarios, serving as immersed participants or observers and providing feedback in the ensuing debriefing sessions.  Attendees from Mount Sinai, including physicians, nurses, child life specialists, and family advisors shared their collective experience and knowledge in this innovative networking opportunity.  Underscoring the message that family engagement and safety are two sides of the same coin, the symposium culminated with closing remarks from three parent advisors, including Jo Murray.  Their personal stories and insightful reflections on the day left the group inspired to advance this important work at their respective institutions.


ACLP Conference

While our primary focus is on providing therapeutic services for our patients and families here at Kravis Children's Hospital, many of our staff participate in sharing knowledge with and educating other child life and creative arts professionals in the hopes of benefiting patients and families everywhere. This May many of our staff presented at the national Association of Child Life Professionals conference in Las Vegas, Nevada on a wide variety of topics. Director Diane Rode led a full day intensive session on clinical supervision and Child Life Specialist Tori Zucker and Technology Coordinator Lu Borges also provided a full day hands-on workshop on creating advanced medical education tools. Child Life Specialist and Art Therapist Lauren Smith presented on family and sibling centered care, and Music Therapist Gabriela Ortiz presented on collaborative research with Child Life in the Emergency Department. Each staff member brought their unique blend of training and expertise to this national conference.  


Family Engagement Spotlight

In March 2017, longtime family advisor Jo Murray accepted an essential position in a five month pilot to support and advance the work of our family engagement faculty.  As the newly appointed “Family Engagement Coordinator” Jo serves as the family advisor on operational, safety, and quality teams throughout the children’s hospital, co-chairs the Family Advisory Council, and is an instrumental member of the hospital’s planning team for the New York State Children’s Hospitals Solutions for Patient Safety Spring Symposium. 
Jo’s commitment to bringing family engagement to the forefront of the hospital’s quality and improvement efforts began when she joined the Family Advisory Council in 2010 following the hospitalization of her then three year old daughter.  Diagnosed with HLH, a rare autoimmune disease, combined with a-HUS, a kidney disorder, her daughter spent an entire summer in the PICU with her family along every step of the way.  This experience along with a host of personal attributes, including a keen ability to hear and integrate many points of views, propelled Jo to the forefront of patient and family advocacy and her current role as Family Engagement Coordinator.  We thank Jo for graciously accepting this opportunity to represent the pediatric patients and family members that we serve.

Patient Corner

From our latest SURGE magazine:

Special Events Corner

To help us celebrate the spring season, the Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department welcomed several specials guests to bring fun and laughter to our pediatric patients. In March, the department celebrated Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Month, hosting interactive tables to engage hospital staff and guests in art, music, and more. The week ended with a tasty ice cream social to thank all those who help make our work possible. In April, Cheeriodicals brought big boxes of cheer filled with specials gifts and toys for our patients. Chopped Jr. Winner Nikki Bidun came to host a special and delicious KidZone TV show about cooking. Other special guests included Patch Adams Playdocs, The Voice’s Jacquie Lee, Inkwell Art, Picture This, Elle Winter, Artworks, Musical Magic, Bronx 12News Meteorologist Mike Favetta, just to name a few!

Special events in Child Life


Staff Accomplishments and Updates

Please join us in welcoming our newest additions! Left to Right: Christine Barcia, Nicole Wood, Professor Bunsen Honeydew, Madison Elkow, and Jo Murray

Christine Barcia is the new Child Life Administration Assistant for the department. She works with patients and families, as well as helping with administrative duties to help our department run smoothly and seamlessly. When she is not working, Christine enjoys long walks in the city!

Nicole Wood is our new KidZone TV weekend show producer/production assistant providing live programming to pediatric patients and their families.  When she's not running around the KZTV studio, Nicole wears many hats in film production and VoiceOver, including voicing characters for Cartoon Network's Pokémon XY.  Nicole is an avid runner and dog-lover, so is looking forward to spending more time with Professor!

Professor Bunsen Honeydew, an 18-month-old golden doodle, recently joined the Kravis Children’s Hospital at Mount Sinai. Professor’s arrival marks the launch of Paws & Play, supported by PetSmart Charities®, a facility dog program that is the first of its kind in New York State.   Professor is a full-time employee in the Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department.  Professor recently completed a high-level service dog training program. Professor works as a team with his handlers, who are certified Child Life Specialists, to provide Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT). Professor is known and loved for his gentle and warm personality. When Professor is off duty he loves playing with his favorite ball and meeting other dog friends.

Madison Elkow is our newest Child Life Specialist. She works on the inpatient units, the IBD clinic and the hem/onc clinic. When she is not at work, Madison enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling, and enjoying all New York City has to offer!"

Jo Murray is first Family Engagement Coordinator! As mentioned above, Jo is advisor on operational, safety, and quality teams throughout the children’s hospital, and co-chairs the Family Advisory Council.


Sarah Yazdian, Child Life Specialist and Art Therapist, presented a poster at the AAHPM entitled “Voiceless, but still heard: Creative arts therapy for an intuited SICU patient with total pain” along with colleagues Ian Kwok and Rachel Adams.

Lauren Smith and Sarah Yazdian, Child Life Specialists and Art Therapists, co-authored two chapters in the book Complicated Grief, Attachment  & Art Therapy: Theory, Treatment and 14 Ready-to-Use Protocols. The chapters are entitled “Can You Help Me Say Goodbye? Sibling Loss and Bereavement Support in the Healthcare Environment and Vicarious Trauma: Supporting Bereavement and Self-Care Practice through Art Therapy for Healthcare Providers”

Lauren Smith has been hired as the new creative arts therapist and child life specialist in the adult palliative care unit. She was also hired as a Practicum Coordinator at Pratt Institute’s Graduate Department of Creative Arts Therapy

Gabriela Ortiz, Music Therapist, will be participating in a panel on Race and Music Therapy for the National Music Therapy Association Conference in St. Louis, MO. She is also presenting at NYU Langone Medical Center on The Effects of an Integrative Environmental Music Therapy Program on the Perception of Noise in ICU settings: Patient, Caregiver and Physician/Nurse Considerations, along with Wen Cheng-Lit from Mount Sinai Beth Israel.

Ali Spike and Toshiko Nonaka, Child Life Specialists, have begun their new roles as primary and secondary handlers for the new Facility Dog Program!

Check us out on Facebook to learn about more recent happenings.


The Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department
Kravis Children's Hospital at Mount Sinai
One Gustave L. Levy Place, Box 1153
New York, NY 10029