Scared and sad are emotions that come to mind when imagining how a child might feel when they have to be admitted to the hospital. If surgery is involved, the experience can be even more frightening. To ease the anxiety of childhood hospitalization, experts at the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital are changing the way children see their hospital environment. Brighter colors, pictures and stories on the preoperative/post anesthesia care unit (PACU) walls and the availability of video games and toys are changing the way children here experience hospital care.
“These things are a nice calming distraction for children waiting to go into surgery and for children in stage one recovery,” said Sandra Altice, pediatric nurse and renovations coordinator for the unit. “Parents are pleased with the new environment as well.”
Offering family-centered care is of the utmost priority for UVa Children’s Hospital and this renovation project will include changes to benefit families and loved ones of a child in surgery. In the near future, a new waiting room will have the same colorful walls and animal pictorials seen in the PACU and will be closer to the main operating area. Currently, rocking chairs added to patient rooms provide comfort for parents and children alike.
Staff members working in the area enjoy it because it is nice and calming and seems more like home. Altice believes that the new look will also be attractive to new medical staff.
“As we grow our pediatric population, it will be a draw for pediatric staff who will appreciate working in a child-friendly and family-centered environment,” she said.
The walls are painted with brilliant greens and blues. Fuzzy bears and other types of animals adorn the walls with descriptions of their origins and habitats, giving young patients something positive to remember of their hospital stay. These themes were chosen by Altice and pediatric surgeons Dr. Bradley Rodgers and Dr. Eugene McGahren. In addition, the renovations team worked with Stanley Beaman & Sears Architecture and Interiors of Atlanta, Georgia to complete the rest of the look.