HSHS St. John's Hospital cares about kids


Juan’s care went well beyond cancer treatments. His music therapist helped turn his treatments into an uplifting experience. “They made me forget about the cancer, the treatments. It just took my mind somewhere else.”

Medical Play & Education


By using medical equipment, specially designed dolls, books and videos, child life specialists help children and teens become familiar with medical procedures and hospital routines during their stay. Medical play allows children to work through their anxiety, help clear up misconceptions, gain a sense of control and become better prepared for procedures. Children may do medical play to prepare for an IV start, diabetic injection, chemotherapy or drawing blood.

Procedural Support


Child life specialists help nursing staff by providing support to the child and family during a procedure or test. This support involves educating the child before the procedure in an age-appropriate manner and then helping to both relax and distract the child during the procedure.

Blowing bubbles, squeezing stress balls or magic pillows, magic wands, puppets, music, counting, deep breathing and guided imagery are used.

Infant Stimulation


To provide stimulation and materials for even our littlest patients our child life specialists can develop daily developmental stimulation sessions for infants who are hospitalized for a long period. Mobiles, music and rattles are also available for parents to use.


Sibling Support


As a part of the family-centered care offered at St. John's Children's Hospital, the child life program includes services to siblings and family members. A child life specialist can spend time with other children in the family to help them understand why their sister or brother is in the hospital. She can also arrange a visit when a brother or sister is hospitalized in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. 

Siblings of patients are given opportunities to express emotions using developmentally appropriate equipment and books, therapeutic art activities and use of hospital play areas.

Special Events


Special programs are planned throughout the year to provide entertainment, as well as distraction, from the daily hospital routine. These special programs are often held in the play areas, or may be brought to each child's hospital room. In addition to pet therapy and music therapy, these events include holiday celebrations and performances by magicians, clowns and other special visitors.


Surgical Discovery Tours


Because hospitalization and/or surgery can be a stressful and frightening experience, individual pre-operative tours, called surgical discovery tours are available. These sessions give children and their family an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the hospital and medical equipment that may be used during the child's hospital stay. Children and family members are encouraged to ask any questions they may have about the "surgery day."