Child Life Specialists

Lurie Children’s tries diligently to be sure that the hospital is not a scary environment for our patients and families. A child life specialist is a trained professional who helps children and their families understand and normalize the hospital environment. They are skilled at providing developmentally appropriate support, preparation and therapeutic play opportunities to decrease anxieties associated with being in the hospital. 

Lurie Children’s has child life specialists located at our main hospital and also at our outpatient satellite locations who are there to help your child understand their diagnosis or procedure in an age-appropriate way. They also help support siblings, guide families through bereavement and assist in legacy making. 

Our Services

As members of your child's healthcare team, child life specialists partner with families to tailor interventions to best meet each child’s individual needs. They provide:

  • Preparation before surgery, exams and other potentially anxiety-provoking experiences by using developmentally appropriate language, books and other teaching materials to reduce stress and increase understanding.
  • Medical play by using specially adapted dolls, as well as real and pretend medical equipment, to enhance understanding and clarify misconceptions.
  • Help to manage pain and encourage relaxation by offering various techniques such as comfort positioning, guided imagery and deep breathing exercises.
  • Procedural support by modeling positive coping strategies using developmentally appropriate items such as bubbles, viewmasters and books.
  • Developmental play opportunities to promote continued development through age-appropriate activities at the bedside, in play groups and in outpatient waiting areas. View our resources below:
  • Sibling support to help siblings understand what is happening, help them work through their feelings and answer their questions about the hospital experience.
  • Bereavement support by providing support and resources for grief and bereavement issues.
  • Support for children with special needs by individualizing care and adapting the environment for specialized learning and coping. This support occurs with collaboration with our Lekotek program. Please feel free to fill out the survey below prior to your appointment or admission and bring it with you to better inform our staff about your child’s special needs. Patient and Family Coping Questionnaire

Request a Child Life Specialist

To request a child life specialist, call 312.227.3270 or from inside the hospital, ask a member of your medical team to page a child life specialist. We are available seven days a week, 365 days a year.  

Please fill out the caregiver survey prior to your appointment or visit to help us better understand your child’s individual needs. Download the Caregiver Survey.

Child Life Internships

If you’re interested in becoming a child life specialist, apply for one of our internships or practiums, and read through the frequently asked questions​.

Resources

Learn more about the role of child life specialists by visiting the National Child Life Council.

View our Resource List for books, movies, websites and apps that may be helpful for children in the hospital.

Meet Our Child Life Specialists

Our child life specialists all work in different areas with different units, so their day-to-day tasks can vary greatly. Take a look at their information below to learn which child life specialist might be working with your child.

Rebecca Meyers MS, CCLS • 312.227.3267 rmeyers@luriechildrens.org

Available Monday through Friday 9:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. — Child Life Manager, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
I can provide:

  • Parent infant massage instruction
  • Sibling support
  • Developmental play opportunities
  • Fetal consult support to parents

Emily Rogers, MS, CCLS • 312.227.3274 erogers@luriechildrens.org
Available Mon-Fri 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. — Outpatient Medical Imaging (main hospital)

  • Developmentally appropriate preparation teaching
  • Pain management techniques
  • Procedural support
Emily Krouse, CCLS, Masters • 312.227.3334 ekrouse@luriechildrens.org

Available Sunday through Thursday 9:15 a.m. - 5:45 p.m. — Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
I can provide:

  • Agitation/anxiety reduction
  • Sibling support
  • Bereavement support
  • Developmental play opportunities
  • Education regarding status, hospitalization, procedures and/or coping strategies
Heidi Thomalla MS, CCLS312.227.3287 hthomalla@luriechildrens.org
Available Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. — Inpatient Oncology
I can provide:
  • New diagnosis teaching
  • Treatment/Procedural preparation
  • Help with emotional expression and coping/adjustment to chronic illness
  • Sibling support
Geanine Hunt, M.Ed., CCLS312.227.3338 ghunt@luriechildrens.org
Available Monday through Friday 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. — 19th floor inpatients, Clinical Research Center, Epilepsy Monitoring Unit and the teen group
I can provide:
  • Developmental play opportunities
  • Procedural support and education
  • Parent infant massage instruction
  • Pre surgical education for spinal fusion surgeries
Amanda Anderson MS, CCLS 312.227.3363 asanderson@luriechildrens.org
Available Monday through Friday 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. — 21st floor inpatients, trach/vent unit (TCU)
I can provide:
  • Developmental play opportunities
  • Procedural support and education
  • Parent infant massage instruction
Katy Dhein, CCLS312.227.3253 KDhein@luriechildrens.org
Available in the Emergency Department: Sunday & Monday 2:30 p.m. - 12 a.m., Tuesday 2:30 p.m. - 10 p.m., Wednesday 12:30 p.m. - 9 p.m. and Thursday 2:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.
I can provide:
  • Support and preparation for medical procedures
  • Distraction, comfort and coping techniques
  • Sibling support
  • Developmental play opportunities
  • Family support for trauma or stressful circumstance
Lauren Schuler, CCLS312.227.6286 lschuler@luriechildrens.org
Available Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. — Special Infectious Diseases Clinic (Lincoln Park Outpatient Center)
I can provide:
  • Procedural support and distraction techniques​
  • Sibling support and education
  • Developmental play opportunities​ and emotional support for patients and siblings
Beth K. Ryan, M.Ed., CCLS312.227.6398 bkryan@luriechildrens.org
Available Monday through Wednesday  8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. — Clark/Deming Outpatient Clinics, Lekotek Leader
I can provide:
  • Preparation
  • Medical Play
  • Managing pain and encouraging relaxation
  • Procedural support
  • Developmental play opportunities
  • Sibling support
  • Support for children with special needs
  • Lekotek services, education and resources
Lori A. Esch, MS, CCLS • 312.227.7925 lesch@luriechildrens.org
Available Monday through Friday 6 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. — Westchester Outpatient Clinics
I can provide:
  • Procedural preparation and support
  • Pre-surgical tours
  • Developmental play opportunities
Lura Carstensen, CCLS312.227.3294 lcarstensen@luriechildrens.org
Available Monday- Friday 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. — Hematology/Oncology Outpatient Clinic and hematology inpatients
I can provide:
  • New diagnosis teaching
  • Sibling support
  • Procedural support, guided imagery
  • Behavioral support
  • Ongoing coping with treatment/hospitalization
  • Bereavement support
Brittany Smith, CCLS312.227.3347 basmith@luriechildrens.org
Available Monday and Wednesday 11 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. — Surgery, Transplant, ENT, Nephrology, Urology, Hepatology, GI
I can provide:
  • New diagnosis support and education
  • Developmentally appropriate procedural education and support
  • Coping and adjustment to chronic illness and hospitalization
  • Agitation/anxiety reduction
  • Sibling support
Stephanie Lukich Roldan, CLS312.227.6397 sroldan@luriechildrens.org
Available Wednesday-Friday 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. — Clark/Deming Outpatient Clinics
I can provide:
  • Preparation
  • Medical play
  • Managing pain and encouraging relaxation
  • Procedural support
  • Sibling support
  • Developmental play opportunities
  • Support for children with special needs
Carly Jokich, CCLS312.227.6286 cjokich@luriechildrens.org
Available Tuesday 12 -4 p.m.  and Friday 9-5 p.m. — Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
I can provide:
  • Parent infant massage instruction
  • Sibling support
  • Developmental play opportunities​
  • Bereavement support

Becca Mitsos, CCLS 312.227.3273  rmitsos@luriechildrens.org
Available Monday through Friday – 7:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m. — Surgical Services (main hospital)
I can provide:

  • Pre-surgical tours
  • Procedural preparation, support and education
  • Comfort, coping and distraction techniques
  • Sibling support and education
  • Developmental play opportunities

Joe Weismantel 312.227.3942 jweismantel@luriechildrens.org
Cardiology