Thursday, December 6, 2007

I warned you....

I'm not the most up to date person with my blogging, but I'm trying!
So, the aforementioned newspaper article came out last week. Despite some minor typos (such as my age, the lie that I was hospitalized at 13, and that I'm 'not a medical professional') the article was pretty ok. I don't love how big my picture was, and apparently I look different, some might even say I look Chinese in the photo. Anyway, as promised, here's the article.

Katy News

Sarah Rowe, 22, of Fulshear, a child life specialist at Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital, uses a large doll to explain procedures and surgeries pediatric patients will undergo.


Nov. 29, 2007, 9:13AM
Hospital employee helps put pediatric patients at ease
Taylor grad visits children waiting for surgery, procedures

Chronicle Correspondent

Sarah Rowe's office at Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital is filled with toys, children's books and stuffed animals. She has video games for boys and jewelry-making kits for girls.

"I think the toys, from my point of view, are distraction objects," said the 22-year-old Fulshear resident. "For the kid, it's like fun and they think, 'I can do something exciting while I'm here.' "

Distracting pediatric patients from the fear of impending medical procedures is her main job.

Even though she's not a medical professional, Rowe said her work as a child life specialist is essential in the eyes of children and parents.

"A child life specialist is aiming to minimize the stress for the children but also for their families," said Rowe, who graduated from Taylor High School in 2002. "What we really want to do is give the parents the tools to really help their child cope with what's going on."

During a day, Rowe visits with children who are waiting for surgery, needing stitches or facing a medical procedure.

Making a cast on a stuffed giraffe or practicing the technique for stitches on a doll, called medical play, are some ways Rowe helps put patients at ease while waiting for the real thing.

Her language and explanation of medical procedures is tailored to fit a child's level of understanding, she said. Sometimes, she just sits and talks, or plays games, with children to help pass time.

"For a child to be able to come in to something that's totally unfamiliar and see some of these things that are familiar to them gives them something else to think about," said Rowe, who attends Second Baptist Church West Campus in Katy.

She offers emotional support to parents dealing with their child's hospitalization as well as new parents and siblings learning to cope with a newborn.

A Katy native, Rowe is the hospital's first child life specialist, a newly created position.

On average, she sees 15 children each day and strives to prioritize patients according to their need and condition.

Age-appropriate treatment plans are developed for a child, she said, based on factors such as development, medical history and diagnosis.

Her days can be unpredictable, she said, especially since she never knows what kind of stressful situation she will face in the emergency room.

"You may have a few patients with colds all day or you may have EMS rolling in with kids every hour," she said.

The emergency room is where she met Allie Schauer, a fourth-grader at James Williams Elementary School who had hit her head against a brick wall on the school playground. Schauer was bleeding from a large gash on her forehead.

"I was nervous and really, really scared," said Schauer, who had never been to a hospital. "The first thing I said is, 'I don't want to get stitches.' "

But after Rowe showed the 9-year-old how stitches are done on a stuffed animal, Schauer said she was more at ease.

"It made me feel more confident about getting stitches, and it made me say this isn't going to be scary at all," she said.

Rowe said her experience as a teen in a hospital was a reason she decided to pursue a career in child life. At 13, she spent several days in the hospital after becoming severely ill, and missed school and friends.

While in college at Baylor University in Waco, Rowe said a professor encouraged her to enroll in a class about child life.

"When I heard about the field, I thought, 'that's perfect,' because if I can prevent some kids from going through what I went through when I was 13 I would love to be able to do that," said Rowe, who graduated from Baylor last year.

Before she began working at the hospital, she trained at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center to better understand medical and surgical procedures.

While her training prepared her to talk about the medical side, Rowe said the coping skills she teaches children can be beneficial years down the road.

"The hardest thing is that you know you can't really fix everything for a child," she said. "But to have a child that's been able to take what you're able to teach them, and to be able to cope with it and come out as almost a positive experience, that's a real blessing."

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