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While children usually are told not to color on anything but paper, one Montana hospital has found that allowing children to draw on their hospital sheets before surgery reduces their anxiety.
It also distracts the children from thinking about going without food and water, says Jaimee Dorvall, RN, Ambulatory Care Coordinator at North Valley Hospital in Whitefish.
“They literally love this,” Dorvall says. “The parents do too.”
The staff members try to draw something on the child’s pillow when the child arrives to make the facility seem more welcoming, Dorvall says. “After we do our admission, we tell them we need them to do something for us, which they love,” she says.
The staff member then takes a marker and draws a silly face or the child’s name on the sheets.
“Their little eyes brighten up, and they get a huge smile across their face,” Dorvall says. “Then we tell them the OR likes to see their pictures when they go back.”
Staff members emphasize to the children that they are allowed to draw on the sheets only at the hospital. “We wouldn’t want mom or dad to get upset at them for drawing on their beds at home,” Dorvall says.
The hospital uses washable, non-toxic markers, which are purchased in bulk for about 20 cents per marker. Each child receives two markers, which they take home. The sheets are commercially washed between surgeries.
“The staff did a test run with our laundry department whereby they colored all over some sheets, sent them off to laundry, and the sheets came back with no marker evidence,” Dorvall says.
Each child also is given a stuffed animal, which comes from donations to the hospital’s foundation.
Children also are allowed to select a boxed lunch from the hospital café’s menu to take home after surgery.
“We started this for our adult outpatients and made special kid-friendly menu items for our pediatric patients,” Dorvall says. “Our patients and their caregivers love having a boxed lunch to take home so that no one has to think about food when returning home.” (Do you have an idea that has worked well in your facility? Share it by contacting Lee Landenberger, Editorial Director, at Lee.Landneberger@AHCMedia.com.)
Executive Editor Joy Dickinson, Nurse Planner Kay Ball, Physician Reviewer Steven A. Gunderson, DO, and Consulting Editor Mark Mayo report no consultant, stockholder, speaker’s bureau, research, or other financial relationships with companies having ties to this field of study. Stephen W. Earnhart discloses that he is a stockholder and on the board for One Medical Passport.