“Therapeutic Play” Part of Comprehensive Pediatric Treatment for Children of all Ages at Valley Baptist-Harlingen

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Mega Doctor NEWS

HARLINGEN – When a child must be in the hospital, play time can go a long way to ease fear and anxiety associated with treatment. 

At Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen, hospitalized children of all ages have their own play and activity rooms, as well as access to a certified child life specialist who helps them with arts-and-crafts and other fun and educational projects – which can help children cope with the challenges of being hospitalized at such a young age.

When it comes to pediatric care, the focus is often on making the youngest patients comfortable. But at Valley Baptist-Harlingen, teen patients also have their own space to take their minds off of their hospital stay. Since 2006, the “Teen Room,” which is available to pediatric patients 12 years of age and older, is filled with movies, books, board and video games aimed at taking an older child’s focus off of being in the hospital.

Sara Robertson, child life specialist at Valley Baptist-Harlingen, said that activities can actually help in the healing process when a pediatric patient is in the hospital.

“The Teen Room is like a lounge where our teens can ‘hang out,’ visit with friends, watch movies, go online, and play games. It’s a place to get up and go to and a motivation or destination when our patients have to get out of bed and walk after surgery,” she said. “We can’t take our patients outside the hospital, but we can bring interesting and fun learning activities to them. Being in a hospital can be a scary place for kids, but we work hard to minimize that. Just because they’re sick, doesn’t mean they can’t do something that is fun and exciting. It helps them to cope with the stress of being in the hospital.”  

Since 2003, the Matt & Patty Gorges Children’s Center at Valley Baptist has offered comprehensive pediatric services to the community. From pediatric emergency services offered at Cameron County’s only pediatric emergency room to specialized care at the county’s only pediatric intensive care unit, Valley Baptist-Harlingen offers services designed to allow children and infants to stay in the Valley and close to home for medical care.

Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen also provides pediatric trauma care – a critical part of healthcare for children when dealing with injuries such as those caused by motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, and falls, said Karen Rhodes, RN-BC, MHR, BSN and trauma program manager at Valley Baptist.

“Pediatric trauma services are necessary because our children deserve the best care when they are injured. While their injuries can be similar to an adult’s, children are not just smaller in size – they respond to injuries differently to adults and situations can become very critical, very quickly,” she said. “Our community deserves to have the best pediatric care that we can provide.

Claudia C. López, RN, MSN, Director of Pediatrics and Pediatric ICU Services for Valley Baptist, said offering comprehensive pediatric services to the community can help families receive high-quality healthcare without leaving the Valley.

“Having these comprehensive pediatric services here in Harlingen saves money and time for Valley families – and lessens the hardship for a child who is ill, since the child is closer to home and family,” López said.

The pediatrics center at Valley Baptist features 25 private rooms and 14 pediatric intensive care rooms, as well as greater access to expanded pediatric specialty care.  Children receive enhanced care in such areas as cardiology, pulmonary medicine, neurology, gastroenterology, infectious diseases, endocrinology, surgery, intensive care, oncology, immunology, and dentistry.

During winter months, the center treats many children with respiratory problems, such as the flu, RSV infections, and asthma. Pediatricians and pediatric sub-specialists are assisted by specially-trained pediatric nurses who care for the young patients. The nurses are certified in Pediatric Advanced Life Support to provide emergency life-saving care for pediatric patients.  

The patient rooms in the children’s center are large enough for a parent to stay in the room with the child, which can help the child to feel more comfortable. The comfort of parents is also a priority with a Ronald McDonald Family Room located inside the hospital and a Ronald McDonald House across the street from Valley Baptist-Harlingen providing “home away from home” for needy families of hospitalized children.

The community has also played a major role in supporting Valley Baptist’s mission of caring for sick children, as local organizations, schools and individuals have donated thousands of toys, books and DVDs.

“All of the donations really help our children,” Robertson said. “The kids have to make a transition from the home environment to the hospital. The toys, games and videos help ease their fears and make the transition much easier.”

For more information on pediatrics services for Valley children, consult your physician or call the Matt & Patty Gorges Children’s Center at Valley Baptist at (956) 389-5493.