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CONCORD, Mass. — Emerson Hospital’s pediatric intervention team recently debuted its newly-designed school education program, an interactive DVD and free lending kit that familiarizes kindergartners with the hospital experience. In the DVD, Freddie, a puppet, shares his hospital story, including his trip to the emergency department, operating room and pediatrics, and offers coping strategies for children undergoing unfamiliar procedures (e.g., blood test). With Freddie’s direction, the children practice slow counting, squeezing someone’s hand and calm breathing.

“The purpose of the program is to prepare kindergarten-age children for the possibility of a hospital experience, either their own or that of a friend or family member,” said Kay Liebmann, RN, MSN, nurse coordinator of Emerson’s pediatric intervention team. “Prepared children make healthier adjustments and are better able to cope. The school environment is a safe, comfortable place for this preparation.”

Included in the hospital lending kit are returnable items, including the DVD, stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, anesthesia masks and a teacher’s manual. “The manual suggests ways to engage the children and enliven classroom discussion,” said Mallory Harrison, Emerson Hospital child life specialist on the pediatric intervention team. Children can smell different kinds of ChapStick, which they would use during a hospital visit to select a smell for the inside of the anesthesia mask, and each kindergartner also receives a surgical hat and mask, activity sheets and a letter to parents that describes the program.

The pediatric intervention team, an integral part of pediatric care at Emerson, is a multidisciplinary group that consists of a child life specialist, a child and adolescent psychiatric nurse, and a consulting child psychiatrist. The team, which provides emotional support and pre-operative, pre-procedural teaching to hospitalized children and their families, recognizes the unique psychosocial needs of hospitalized children and their families. The services the team provides are based on the emotional and developmental needs of children from infancy to young adulthood. Through careful preparation and continuing support, the team aims to minimize a child’s anxiety in the health care environment and promote opportunities for growth and mastery of the hospital experience.

Emerson’s pediatric program includes several components that are unique for a community hospital: 24-hour in-hospital coverage by pediatric hospitalists, community pediatric practices that provide around-the-clock coverage for their patients, a special care nursery for ill newborns, the Pediatric Intervention Team and partnerships with the pediatric services at leading Boston teaching hospitals.

The lending kit is offered free of charge. For more information, or to reserve a kit, call (978) 287-3423.

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