Putting Young Minds at Ease Six-year-old Davis Cotner felt nervous when he arrived at the hospital to have his tonsils removed. He soon learned there was nothing to fear.

Davis

As Davis began his first year of elementary school, his mother, Kayla Davis, noticed something troubling. Every time she turned around, it seemed like her son had another case of strep throat. She made an appointment with an ear, nose and throat physician, who said that Davis needed to have his tonsils removed to help prevent future infections. Kayla scheduled the surgery for Christmas break.

An Empowering Education

On the morning of the procedure, Davis, his mom, dad and grandmothers on both sides of his family arrived at CHRISTUS Highland Medical Center. Appropriately, tensions were high.  “Davis was a little nervous,” Kayla says. “He kept asking questions about how the doctor was going to get his tonsils out.”  This type of curiosity is normal, according to Lexi Little, Certified Child Life Specialist at CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier Health System, the region’s Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Lexi’s job is to resolve scary misconceptions by giving kids accurate, age-appropriate information about what to expect.

To teach Davis about the procedure, Lexi suggested playing doctor using a doctor’s kit she provided and the stuffed animal Davis brought from home. As Davis finished practicing the sequence of the 
tonsilectomy on the toy, Lexi noticed he seemed less anxious. The pair colored and played cards — activities Davis could now focus on since he felt calmer — until it was time for the procedure.
“Lexi was awesome,” Kayla says. “Davis was all smiles going into surgery.”

As soon as Davis was moved to the recovery room after surgery, Lexi brought Kayla to her son. “I don’t like to see my baby hurting — no mom does — but Lexi made me feel very comfortable in the recovery room,” Kayla says. “Davis wasn’t really awake and kept saying his throat hurt, so Lexi stayed right there and helped.” Davis went home later that day. Since his surgery in December, he’s only had one minor illness.

“He’s a normal 6-year-old boy now,” Kayla says. “I’m so thankful for Lexi and the staff at CHRISTUS Highland for what they did that day. I hope we don’t have to go back to the hospital, but if we do, we’ ll be going back to CHRISTUS Highland.”

Helping Kids Cope

Child Life is one of 17 signature CMN Hospital programs at CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier Health System, where Certified Child Life Specialists help children and families facing medical experiences and grief reduce fear, anxiety and pain by providing developmentally appropriate therapeutic play, preparation and education. The Child Life team at CHRISTUS helps families and 
children cope more effectively in the healthcare setting, whether a child has an outpatient procedure, new parents have a premature baby in the neonatal intensive care unit, or children or grandchildren may be visiting their parents or grandparents in the hospital.