“Therapeutic Play” Part of Comprehensive Pediatric Treatment for Children of all Ages at Valley Baptist-Harlingen

Feb 23, 2018

HARLINGEN – When a child must be in the hospital, play time can go a long way to easing fear and anxiety associated with treatment. 

At Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen, hospitalized children of all ages have their own play and activity rooms, as well as access to a certified “child life specialist” who helps them with arts-and-crafts and other fun and educational projects – which can help children of all ages cope with the challenges of being hospitalized at such a young age.

When it comes to pediatric care, the focus is often on making the youngest patients comfortable. But at Valley Baptist-Harlingen, teen patients also have their own space to take their minds off of their hospital stay. Since 2006, the “Teen Room” available to pediatric patients 12 years of age and older, is filled with movies, books, board and video games aimed at taking an older child’s focus off of being in the hospital.

The specialist, Maricela Medina, said that other activities can actually help in the healing process when a pediatric patient is in the hospital.

“The Teen Room is like a lounge where our teens can ‘hang out,’ visit with friends, watch movies, go online, and play games. It's a place to get up and go to, it's a motivation or destination when our patients have to get out of bed and walk after surgery. We can’t take our patients outside the hospital, but we can bring interesting and fun learning activities to them. Being in a hospital can be a scary place for kids, but we work hard to minimize that. Just because they're sick, doesn't mean they can't do something that is fun and exciting. It helps them to cope with the stress of being in the hospital.”  

Since 2003, the Matt & Patty Gorges Children’s Center at Valley Baptist has offered comprehensive pediatric services, which can allow children and infants to stay in the Valley and close to home for specialized medical care. In an effort to provide an even greater level of specialized care to area families, Valley Baptist-Harlingen will soon open its Pediatric Emergency Room, a unit within the existing Emergency Room geared specifically for pediatric services.

Valley Baptist Health System CEO Manny Vela said that the new unit, which will open on Monday, August 7, will help Valley Baptist-Harlingen continue its mission of providing safe, high-quality healthcare to the community.

“This ER within an ER will feature 12 dedicated pediatric beds in a pediatric-friendly environment, with features designed for maximum safety and security specifically for children. Valley Baptist-Harlingen has been a leader in pediatric care in Cameron County. We have the only Pediatric ICU in the county, as well as the only Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and only Pediatrics Department in Harlingen,” he said. “We look forward to offering the Pediatric Emergency Room within in our Emergency Room, which is often the front door of our facility.”

Claudia C. López, RN, MSN, Director of Pediatrics and Pediatric ICU Services for Valley Baptist, said offering comprehensive pediatric services to the community can help families receive high-quality healthcare without leaving the Valley.

“Having these comprehensive pediatric services here in Harlingen saves money and time for Valley families – and lessens the hardship for a child who is ill, since the child is closer to home and family,” said, RN, MSN, Director of Pediatric and Pediatric ICU Services for Valley Baptist.

The pediatrics center at Valley Baptist features 25 private rooms and 14 pediatric intensive care rooms, as well as greater access to expanded pediatric specialty care.  Children receive enhanced care in such areas as cardiology, pulmonary medicine, neurology, gastroenterology, infectious diseases, endocrinology, surgery, intensive care, oncology, immunology, and dentistry.

During winter months, the center treats many children with respiratory problems, such as the flu, RSV virus, and asthma.  Pediatricians and pediatric sub-specialists are assisted by specially-trained pediatric nurses who care for the young patients.  The nurses are certified in Pediatric Advanced Life Support to provide emergency life-saving care for pediatric patients.  

The patient rooms in the children’s center are large enough for a parent to stay in the room with the child, which can help the child to feel more comfortable.  The comfort of parents is also a priority – with a “Ronald McDonald Family Room” located inside the hospital, while a Ronald McDonald House, located across the street from Valley Baptist, provides a “home away from home” for needy families of hospitalized children.

Thousands of toys, books and DVDs have been donated by generous groups, schools and individuals in the community.

“All of the donations really help our children,” Lopez said. “The kids have to make a transition from the home environment to the hospital. The toys, games and videos help ease their fears and make the transition much easier.

For more information on pediatrics services for Valley children, consult your physician, call the Matt & Patty Gorges Children’s Center at Valley Baptist at (956) 389-5493, and visit www.ValleyBaptist.net/medical-services/women-and-children.

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