ST. GEORGE — Locally-based radio show hosts delivered gifts to children admitted into the hospital in the days leading up to Halloween.
KONY Country’s hosts Marty Lane and Amy Chesley visited the pediatrics ward of Dixie Regional Medical Center to bring gifts to children in the hospital who may not get a chance to go trick-or-treating during the upcoming holiday. The pair made a number of gift bags with coloring books, KONY Country t-shirts, crayons, Play-Doh and more.
One child the pair was able to visit, 9-year-old Zavie, received a Star Wars-themed bag, pausing his Lego Star Wars video game to tell them about the costume he has planned for Halloween.
With the help of donations from the community, DRMC has been able to welcome new pediatric patients to their rooms with blankets and toys, which the kids keep with them during their stay. In the immediate future, children who are admitted into the pediatric wing will also receive the remaining KONY Country gift bags.
Certified Child Life Specialist Michael Robertson said visits like this help kids “feel more like kids and less like patients.”
“It’s important, it makes a difference,” Robertson said. “In a way, it normalizes a very sterile, not home-like environment. So when these donations go to the kids, they either have something to play with or make their room more decorated, like home.”
Creating an at-home environment helps to reduce anxiety in children and establishes a therapeutic environment where children can heal, he said. Familiar objects, like toys and blankets, give the children a sense of tranquility, unlike the medical equipment and machines that might be foreign to them.
Nurse Manager Jason MacPherson told St. George News these practices are applied at every level because an environment with familiar objects — as opposed to a sterile, blank room — is more therapeutic and aids in recovery. In the pediatric wing, however, they go about it differently since the needs of children are not the same as those of adult patients.
“When they’re out of their element, it creates a lot of stress for them,” he said. “It harms the healing environment. Normalizing things or making them feel safe betters the healing environment.”
Dimming the lights, speaking softer and providing children with familiar foods are some of the ways DRMC is ensuring their juvenile patients have a consistent healing environment. The pediatrics wing also provides kids with a PlayStation game console and video games for them to play while they stay at the hospital.
Donations are accepted at DRMC’s 400 East campus at 544 S. 400 East in St. George. Donors are asked to fill out a short form, and volunteers take pictures of donors to be included in a “thank you” card at the beginning of each year.
Blankets, toys and PlayStation video games are some of the most frequently requested items. Administrators ask that donated items be new as children staying in the pediatrics wing often have compromised immune systems and are susceptible to a variety of illnesses.
Visitors and donations are completely random, Macpherson said, but during the holidays there is an influx of group visitors such as church groups, community volunteers and holiday visitors, like Santa Claus. Just before the holidays, the pediatrics wing begins to run out of children’s supplies, and the large increase in the number of donations during Thanksgiving and Christmas help restock for the rest of the year.
“It (donations) recycles back to kids that go to school with our kids, that live in our neighborhoods,” Macpherson said. “There are always stories of people that donated and then they become a patient and somehow it comes back to them. They see a blanket that they made or their grandmother made and things like that. It’s pretty amazing.”
DRMC is always striving to improve the life of the children in the community, he said, and ensuring families don’t have to wander outside of the community for care is one of the biggest ways they support healing in the children of Southern Utah.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.