COLUMBIA, SC — There was no apparent anxiety in the room as scores of youngsters made the rounds between X-ray, surgery, laboratory services and other medical specialties at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital Thursday.
As it has all week, the hospital’s Child Life Department welcomed Midlands first-graders to the campus for some hands-on instruction as part of its “mini” medical school. The tour explores the hospital from a child’s point of view and is designed to make the hospital a less frightening place for youngsters.
For nearly an hour, students rotated between seven medical specialty areas staffed by Palmetto Health staff and Richland County EMS workers in the hospital lobby.
“The whole idea is if a child were to come to the hospital, these are the things they might encounter,” said Diane Bagnal-Moody, the hospital’s Child Life Department manager. “The goal is to relieve any anxiety the children may have about the hospital.”
Throughout the morning, students visited stations that included an ambulance, surgery, lab, poison control, X-ray, physical therapy, children’s emergency department and simulated patient room. At each stop, students were instructed on such things as the differences in physical, occupational and speech therapy, and how to distinguish candy from medicine.
“It gives them a good idea of what goes on in the hospital,” said Columbia’s Shelli Pue, who accompanied her niece Kinsley Evans to Thursday’s tour. “Hopefully, they won’t ever have to go through it themselves, but if they do they won’t be as scared of what’s going to happen.”
Lonnie B. Nelson Elementary teacher Jill Williams, who has taken her students to the tour for several years, said one of the biggest impressions they come away with is that the hospital is a place that helps people. She said the visits also have made her students more consistent about such things as washing their hands regularly to protect against germs.
“They really do make those connections,” Williams said. “Every year, I learn something new that I didn’t know.”
The mini hospital tour is part of an international public awareness campaign designed to help children and the community learn more about the health care needs of children and their families.
Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital started the program 26 years ago to recognize Child Life month in March. It eventually expanded the program to twice a year because of its popularity. Bagnal-Moody said about 1,500 youngsters will have taken part in the program this week and more than 3,000 over the course of the year.
Reach Rantin at (803) 771-8306.