Hospitalized Kids - a Forgotten Victim of COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has changed our lives. We're separated from extended family and friends and learning new ways to cope with the isolation, stress, and anxiety that's come with this new normal.   

For hospitalized kids, it's even worse.   

Right now, there are thousands of seriously ill kids in the hospital, more isolated and more scared than ever. Hospital resources are being directed to COVID19 patients, kids are sharing wards with adults, and doctors in hazmat suits invoke fear.  

Immunocompromised children undergoing chemotherapy, transfusions, and treatment for various illnesses are at significant risk. 

The experience is incredibly anxiety-provoking and can affect their physical growth, personality, and emotional development.    

It's a scary and isolating experience that takes away the joys of being a kid.  

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Now add a global pandemic to what these hospitalized kids are going through. They can't have their family with them, visitors are limited to one person, and social interaction with other patients, or in the ward playrooms, is now nonexistent. These kids are alone and scared more than ever. Isolation while hospitalized can have many adverse effects on a child's long-term development.  

Even child life specialists, the unsung hospital heroes whose mission is to reduce anxiety, fear, and pain for sick kids, can't do their job effectively. They are being told to work remotely, being reassigned to help with adult patients, and limiting the number of patients they can be in contact with to reduce the risk of exposure.   

"Our job fundamentals are to normalize the hospital environment but, how can we achieve this goal when what is going on globally is not 'normal'?" says Tracy Reyes Serrano, CCLS at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital. 

Now, more than ever, Starlight Children's Foundation is hearing from our hospital partners and families across the country just how critical the need is to help these children feel comfort, distraction, entertainment, and a allow them to just be kids even for a few moments during these stressful times. Together, we can bring happiness to hospitalized kids during these uncertain times.  

Delivering happiness to seriously ill kids has been and remains Starlight's mission. While a child might not have their brother or sister in the room for support, they can play games with them online through the Starlight Gaming stations. They can transport themselves out of the hospital room with Starlight Virtual Reality. Their anxiety is reduced with comfortable and colorful Starlight Gowns.    

“With the help of Starlight Gaming, patients can switch from one virtual world to another with ease. On a much larger scale, having these game systems pre-loaded with games, helps us limit the need for additional staff to gown, glove and mask just to go into a patient's room to provide new games therefore conserving critical PPE,” says Tracy Reyes Serrano, CCLS at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital. 

Starlight Children's Foundation is here for hospitalized kids, and we ask that you show your steadfast support for our youngest patients who are more isolated and scared more than ever. Our commitment to delivering happiness to hospitalized kids is unwavering.  

More than ever, we need help to bring critical Starlight Programs to children's hospitals during this challenging time and beyond.
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