MedWatch Today: Child Life Specialists Help Children Heal at the Burn Center

Med Watch Today

When a child gets burned the pain can be especially traumatizing. But thanks to the child life specialists at the Leon S. Peter’s Burn Center at Community Regional Medical Center, families are supported through the ups and downs that can come when a child has a severe burn injury.

This bond between little five-year old Matthew Perez and child life specialist Rosielyn Rufo wasn’t always so easy. When matthew came into the burn center in December, he was shy and unsure.

Rosielyn explained, “I went to bedside immediately and met with the patient and mom. I was able to bring in my Bubba Bear and some distraction stickers, scenes that a boy his age might like, like dinosaurs, and that’s how I was able to build rapport.”

That rapport took time because Matthew’s burn injury was traumatizing for him and his mother Anavel. Anavel explains, the family had been in Mexico for the holidays, “And then Christmas Day comes along and Matthew has an accident and then we’re faced with what to do. Do we continue to stay, do we leave? Take him down there, there’s no treatment for them.”

“A pot had been moved to the ground and while Matthew and his cousins were playing, he tripped and fell into the pot and received a pretty substantial burn to his chest and shoulder,” added Shana Henry, a burn injury prevention specialist at the burn center. She continued, “Matthew sustained deep second and third degree burns that required actually a hospitalization and surgery and he stayed with us for a time here… While Matthew was here in the hospital, we were able to utilize RECELL, which is a spray on skin cell technology… and have found it to be incredible.”

Through it all, Rosielyn was at Matthew’s side.

“Utilizing pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches has been very helpful to get to know what he likes. And I found over the time, that I built that relationship seeing him in the outpatient clinic,” said Rosielyn.

Rosielyn helped distract Matthew when he had his dressing changes, helping him heal in a way only she could.

She added, “If we can equip the kids with the preparation, the developmentally appropriate ways to teach them, it does alleviate the stress for mom or dad at bedside.”

Research shows the interaction with a child life specialist can have a major impact on a young patient’s healing and well-being.

Anavel said Rosielyn’s support was crucial.

“So he’s not really thinking of what’s going on, but you know, play. And I honestly picked up some great tips from her because I had to do some dressing changes at home and that wasn’t easy,” stated Anavel.

Shana said about Rosielyn, “She’s so natural, she’s compassionate, she’s able to build that easy connection. It’s very easy to see that she was meant to be in this role.”

Anavel is grateful Matthew received specialized care at the burn center, and he’s back to being his vivacious self.

“Just being here has been a blessing. Having this burn center here, I can’t never say how blessed we are to be able to have Matthew here. Every appointment here has been extraordinary,” ended Anavel.

If you would like to give to the life-changing work at the Leon S. Peters Burn Center, click here.

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