“We’re Here to Help” – Three Medical Professionals You Should Know When Visiting the Hospital

7 Nov

Children and families can enter the medical setting for a number of reasons. These events can be both planned and unplanned. While most are well acquainted with their doctor (primary care physician), in many hospitals, there are additional staff members who can provide individualized services for families in need as well. They are able to answer specific questions, provide or coordinate much-needed resources, and frame medical information in a clear, understandable way. Listed below are three important medical professionals who can be of assistance.

1: Certified Child Life Specialist / Therapist (CCLS): These professionals, are specifically trained in child development and often work to help children and families cope once they enter the medical environment. A CCLS can utilize clinical education or play therapy sessions to explain some of the medical terms often used by other medical professionals in a developmentally appropriate way. Additionally they are able to prepare children for tests or procedures that may be stressful or scary, and even accompany kids into procedural room to provide distraction (with parents permission). Finally, a CCLS, together with the larger
pediatric department, often coordinates fun activities and programming meant to make a hospital stay more enjoyable.

2: Social Worker (SW / LMSW): These professionals are also able to provide clinical counseling sessions for patients in need. Additionally, a social worker can also help coordinate a safe discharge after hospitalization by working with the medical team to ensure specific resources (such as prescriptions, home care, medical equipment, and ongoing emotional support) are
in place within a family’s community when the go home.

3: Patient Advocates: These professionals are able to help families who find themselves in difficult situations and are unsure of their rights while in the hospital. Patient advocates are able to: provide a written version of your particular hospital’s “Patient’s Bill of Rights” and explain its meaning, ensure that all services are provided in your primary language, and even advocate on behalf of a family if they become uncertain of the level of care they are receiving.

Overall, as medical staff, we are here to help as best we can. When in doubt on where to turn, a nearby medical receptionist or clerk can point you in the right direction or alert the appropriate personnel to your needs.

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