Sunday, January 24, 2010

Child Life Specialists & IVs

On Friday, Talli was scheduled for her regular visit to our local hospital for IVIG. However, just a few minutes before we headed over, we got a call from one of the nurses that they were "bursting at the seems with cases of RSV". She asked if we wanted to come in on Saturday morning when the nursing staff would hopefully be able to see her right away. She thought if we came in as scheduled it would take a while to get a room on the floor, as they were into two over flow units, and probably 6-7 hours before her IV would get running.

When we scheduled it we had asked the unit's clinical leader if their new Child Life Specialist would be able to be with us while Talli got her IV. We had met her in December shortly before Talli was discharged. She had some ideas on how to make things go smoother in getting the IV established and some techniques to get Talli to relax. After the staff called me, they quickly called the Child Life Specialist and called me back to say that she would come in on Saturday to help with Talli.

IVs are a particular difficultly with Talli, which is putting it very lightly. With Propionic Acidemia the veins become very fragile and can break or "blow", an added problem is that when sick or fasting the fluids that are needed to put through the IV and the rate at which they need to run to be effective can irritate and damage the vessels such that they "blow" and a new one needs to be put in. Then there is the frequency problem- There are just a lot of IVs and blood draws needed. When she was an infant/toddler she was hospitalized every 4-6 weeks for 3-14 days. Occassionally, we would stay in the ER for 12 hours, but typically we would have to return again within the next 24 hours because it was not enough. For blood draws, they were daily, even several times a day, in her first month of life, over time it has tapered down to about once a month, unless there is some wrong. Then there is the problem that she just has shotty veins, they are tiny, they hide, and they are just scarred from getting poked a lot.

Because of these difficulties it takes on average 3 attempts to get an IV line in. On rare occasions, it is just one attemple, on others it is more than the number of fingers on one hand. So it is understandable why a small child would be upset by getting an IV. Once the nurses or doctor tries for an IV, she starts wiggling, screaming, spilling, and kicking. However, after the nurse counts "1 2 3" and pricks her skin she holds still. She will then give instructions to the nurses regarding how they should tape and put a house and board on her. Then comes the flush, the final test to make sure that IV is actually good. A flush is usually a small amount of saline (salt water), so they can see that fluid is going into the vein like it should, if the IV is not in the right place or the vein has "blown" they will either get resistance or a lump or bruise will show up under the skin. Often times, the nurses put self imposed limits on the number of attempts they will try for an IV. If they can not get it in those attempts, they call for someone else, which could be a 15min to 2 hour wait. So the process and trauma could get repeated and repeated. Again, she has gone through this enough to know that if it is not good, which chances are that it is not, she will get a nice bruise which does hurt.

So back to Child Life Specialists (CLS), they usually have a Bacheler's or Master's degree in Child Life. There are multiple programs throughout the country for training. They do play therapy with children on getting procedures, distract them while a procedure is occurring, train staff on ways to minimize trauma and anxiety in the child, they often coordinate and train volunteers, and organize and purchase supplies for the play room. Our local hospital had just hired a new CLS a few months ago to work part-time. She met with us in December when it was close to discharge time, but did get to observe Talli getting 1 dose of the H1N1 vaccination. Earlier in January, she spoke with the Art Therapist that has been coming to the house through Pallative Care to come up with some more ideas.

So Saturday morning, she came in and sat with us for a couple of hours. She talked with Talli about what would happen with the IV and blood draw (she needed 6 tubes of blood tested) and what Talli's role was- Hold still and not spit. We were incredibly blessed that it only took 1 attempt to get the IV in and they were able to get all of the blood that was needed.

Here are some things that were done to help minimize Talli's anxiety and keep her still voluntarily:
-CLS met with us previously (in December) and came with cool toys and a terrific stuff whale.
-CLS talked to Talli prior to the IV about what was going to happen and reminded her about her two responsibilities- holding still and not spitting.
-CLS brought new toys to distract Talli during the IV.
-Nurse counted "1 2 3" then stuck her with the needle, so she knew what was coming.
-Talli held onto some soft playing dough (NOT playdough brand as is has LATEX in it) with the hand not getting the IV.
-I sat in the bed with Talli on my lap.
-The arm getting the IV was propped on two pillows at her side.
-We muted the TV, so she could focus on me or the CLS talking to her.
-Continuous encouragement from tech, CLS, and me about sitting so well.
-Wrapped "prize" was given to Talli once the IV was all taped up.
-Arranged with the nurse prior to the IV placement to have fluids running after the IV was in to minimize flushes.
-Brought from home a bag of toys (plastic slinky, mini pinwheel, grow capsules, playing dough) that is only for use in the hospital and she doesn't have to share with her brothers.

One of the problems in general is that CLS time and services can not be billed to insurance companies, so their pay and their resources have to come out of a hospital or clinic's bottom line. Talli have been in numerous hospitals throughout the country in our travels and moves and we have found these facilities to have good Child Life Programs (CLP), things may have changed since we have been there last-
-Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City, UT- the best CLP we have experienced
-Lutheran General Hosptital in Park Ridge, IL- they seem a bit stretched with the new pediatric unit that opened in 2009, but are also good
-Edward Hospital in Naperville, IL- this is our local hospital and the CLS seems to be doing good work thus far
-Oncology/Hematology clinics at Hope Children's Hospital and Central Dupage Hospital-we didn't see a CLS there, however, you can see their hand in how the clinic runs with volunteers in the lobby, snacks in the lobby, video game consoles in the lobby, a treasure box, staff walking patients to the blood lab and putting them in the front of the line for a draw.

1 comment:

  1. Brit- I'd definately forward your impressions/comments onto the Child Life Director and also the administration of your hospital. Having worked as a CCLS... I know we really needed positive feedback from families. Child Life is generally taken for granted- and if not fully supported... is usually the first thing cut from budgets.