Kids Health Matters: Helping families cope with hospital experience

WILMINGTON, Delaware. (WPVI) -- On September 4 and 5, Delaware radio stations are holding their annual radiothon in the lobby of Nemours duPont Hospital for Children.

It helps fund an aspect of care that never appears on a bill, but is just as important as medicine for healing.

Noelle Zechman is engrossed in a board game.

But the 14-year-old is also playing a waiting game.

The treatment that stopped her cancer when she was little weakened her heart, and now she's waiting for a transplant.

Noelle's been in hospitals since spring, mostly restricted to the Nemours Cardiac Care Center.

But thank goodness for Child Life Specialist Caitlin Meehan. .

"It just brightens up my day, every time caitlin comes in my room," says Noelle with a smile.

"We tried to make slime 2 times, the second time was successful," she grins.

And they play games, or bake.

Nemours duPont has a dozen specialists like Caitlin Meehan, helping patients, families, and caregivers cope with the stress of hospital time.

"We do that through teaching and play and just general support," says Jennifer Sciolla, the director of Child Life, Arts Therapy, and Education.

Sciolla says it takes blend of normalcy, and special events.

At Nemours, the hub of Child Life is the Clubhouse: open round-the-clock, and with a full schedule every day.

"This area is our table games," she proudly points out.

The games are intended for families to play together.

There's Flyers air hockey, and a pool table -

There are also video games, board games, and crafts.

There's a separate space for very young patients.

And lots of events.

The state police host picnics in the hospital atrium, and pro athletes are frequent visitors, giving kids a life-long memory.

But as essential as Child Life is, the cost isn't covered by insurance or patient bills.

It's driven by donors, and Sciolla is thankful for every one.

"It takes more than a doctor, more than a nurse. It takes an entire team to really surround and help heal a family," she says of her team.
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