Long Hospital Stay
Dealing With a Long Hospital Stay
Callie Rickard lives in central Texas with her husband and three children. Her oldest son, DJ age 11, was born with the CCHD Shone’s Complex and pulmonary hypertension, which required surgical intervention at just 4 days old. DJ underwent five open-heart surgeries to replace valves before his first birthday as well as another at age 2, and his last at age 7. DJ has had many other surgeries and procedures and has had to cope with numerous complications. This has resulted in several long hospital stays as an infant, toddler and older child. Child Life Specialist, Lynn Davis, was key in helping to make DJ’s long hospital stays more bearable for him as well as for the rest of his family.
Alex Jaworski was born August 11, 1994 and was initially diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, although he had an unusual assortment of heart defects which included transposition of the great arteries and a hypoplastic left ventricle. He had his first two open-heart surgeries (a modified Blalock-Taussig shunt and a fenestrated Fontan Procedure) before his first birthday and then went 16 years without needing surgery. By the time Alex was 17 he had developed an aortic aneurysm, which had been growing in size for several years. His last open-heart surgery (a Fontan conversion, aortic aneurysm surgery and modified Maze Procedure) had the longest hospital stay of the three surgeries he had. As a 17-year-old patient in a children’s hospital, Alex had an unusual experience, but he wasn’t the oldest patient on the ward! Another Fontan patient was having a procedure done as well and that patient was 19!
Lynn Davis has been a Certified Child Life Specialist at Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland, OR for 15 years. She works primarily with patients in the pediatric intensive care unit, where she meets the emotional, social and developmental needs of patients and their families. She provides medical play preparation and support for surgery and procedures to help children become more comfortable with the hospital setting. She uses therapeutic play to promote the expression of feelings and fears and to normalize the hospital. Her goal is to relieve stress and anxiety to enhance the emotional well being of the patient and family.
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