David Ortiz Child Life Specialist in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit

The MGHfC Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) is a 14-bed multidisciplinary unit, which has distinguished itself by providing high quality care for critically ill infants, children and adolescents. Patients present with a wide variety of life-threatening issues, such as severe infections, respiratory diseases, trauma and post-operative care of various complex surgeries. Many of the patients who receive the cardiac surgery receive their post-surgical care in the PICU.

  • A collaborative approach is used when caring for a child and their family. Child Life Specialists (CLS) are certified in assessment and treatment of the developmental, emotional and psychosocial issues of children. CLS provide consultation and intervention services regarding child development and the impact of illness, injury and hospitalization of children and families
  • The Child Life program in the PICU is dedicated to creating a comfortable, therapeutic and family-centered environment. The goal is to optimize a patient’s growth and development, decrease anxiety and foster positive coping skills. Medical preparation and procedural support, offered by Child Life, helps patients gain a sense of mastery over their health care experiences.
  • Child Life is beneficial during the challenging times throughout a child’s illness or hospitalization, including but not limited to:
  • After a recent diagnosis or traumatic event
  • Before or during a procedure, test or surgery to provide distraction, support and relaxation
  • During a difficult experience with any element of hospitalization
  • When a sibling of a sick child needs help understanding the hospital experience

Child Life Specialists offer a wide range of services to patients and their families

  • Preparation: Helping patients and families to better understand their healthcare experiences, including providing developmentally appropriate preparation for medical procedures
  • Procedural Support: Providing distraction and relaxation techniques to minimize pain and enhance coping skills and comfort level
  • Play: Participating in developmental and therapeutic play to promote socialization, normalization and the expression of feelings
  • Medical Play: Using medical equipment and teaching dolls to encourage children to communicate their questions and misconceptions about the hospital experience
  • Programming: Staffing sibling support groups, school re-entries, pet therapy visits
  • Art and Music Therapy: Offers patients additional opportunities for creativity and expression of feelings
  • Advocacy: Promoting family-centered care and a child-friendly environment to support the unique needs of children and families
  • Education/Supervision: Mentoring child life students during their clinical internships