Children's Hospital Is Dedicated to Clinical Quality, Patient Comfort
Child life specialists help children cope with the hospital experience by teaching them about hospitalization, illness and injury, preparing children for surgery and treatment.
The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital Receives Honors for Outstanding Commitment to Service Excellence Award
Parents who bring their children to The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJH) in New Brunswick, New Jersey, take comfort in having access to top doctors and nurses and advanced pediatric care.
Children, however, tend to be more impressed by the talking giraffe in the lobby that tells you your height, or the video games in each private patient room.
With a whimsical design, kid-friendly menu, private rooms with video games, library, lounge and more, the children’s hospital is filled with details that help soften the ordeal of hospitalization for children and their families.
“It’s a very comfortable place to be,” says Claire Drain, a mother of four from Bernardsville, New Jersey. “They’ve done a lot to make it as comfortable as it can be for people, for still being a hospital.”
A number of those thoughtful details grew out of efforts to involve parents during the hospital’s design phase, says Stephen K. Jones, president and CEO of RWJUH. The hospital established a family advisory committee whose input helped guide project architects and interior designers, resulting in things like daybeds in each room where parents can spend the night, large closets, a lockable cabinet in the bathroom for medications and personal effects, and easy access to washers and dryers.
The hospital also operates a family resource center with books, games and a professional librarian who can help families research health information, and classroom facilities where teachers and tutors can visit to help students keep up with their studies.
“It’s a magical place,” Jones says. “Nobody wants to be in a hospital, but we do everything in our power to make the experience a little better, a little brighter.”
Beneath the children’s hospital’s brightly colored surface is a firm belief by Jones and his staff that promoting a child’s psychological well-being can help them get well faster. Crucial to that effort is the work of child life specialists, specially trained experts in child development who attend to the psychological and emotional needs of hospitalized children.
Child life specialists help children cope with the hospital experience by teaching them about hospitalization, illness and injury, preparing children for surgery and treatment, as well as working with siblings and other family members. Child life specialists work in all units of the children’s hospital, including the hospital’s pediatric emergency department, helping parents and children understand and get ready for procedures, and providing emotional support.
They also oversee a wide range of day-to-day activities to help young patients better cope with their hospital stay through things like therapeutic play and self-expression activities, art therapy, pet therapy, parties and more.
“Leading children’s hospitals today recognize child life specialists as a vital part of the pediatric team,” says Barbara Gursky, director of the Child Life Program at the Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital. “They play a vital role not only supporting children and families, but also in educating caregivers about the needs of children under stress.”
All of this helps explain why the children’s hospital recently was recognized for having some of the most satisfied patients among all children’s hospitals. Press Ganey, a national consulting firm specializing in patient satisfaction measurement, recently honored the hospital and its staff with its Outstanding Commitment to Service Excellence Award for the hospital’s consistent ranking among the top 1 percent of all children’s hospitals in the nation for patient satisfaction.