On a busy day at Charleston ENT & Allergy’s Surgery Center, dozens of patients will make their way into waiting rooms to prepare for their procedures. This pre-operative time is often a little daunting for children and their parents. Luckily, Laura Zucker knows just the trick.
Zucker is a Child Life Specialist; a position designed to ease the nerves of young patients waiting for surgery. She uses tools like therapeutic play, medical play, education and coping skills.
Zucker says she was called to this career after her own personal experience as a child undergoing several surgeries.
“I remember myself having to be held down by the nurses and doctors when they put the mask on me. I was thrashing around and it was very traumatic for me. I just never wanted another child to go through such a traumatic experience,” she says.
The idea of “funkctional play” is different for every patient. From singing popular Disney songs, playing doctor dress-up and even racing cars down the hallway – the children (and their parents) love when she stops by their room.
“When I watch them come in I get a feel for what they like. Obviously princesses and super heroes are always a good thing to have. We have mask that we use for the anesthesia that we put a scent inside to make it smell better for them,” says Zucker.
The team at Charleston ENT & Allergy say that Zucker has made a world of difference in their patients.
“From the second they walk through the doors we want them to have good experience. That’s where Laura comes in — making children comfortable all the way to recovery room,” says Dr. Mark Ghegan, Medical Director of the Surgery Center of Charleston.