Childhood is a season of life where exploration, growth and creativity are necessary for self-development and social inclusion. Lurie Children’s integrates play and learning opportunities for patients and siblings at the main hospital and Lincoln Park outpatient location. Special events, daily play groups, inpatient therapy dog visits, art activities, kid-friendly incentives and celebrity guests are just a few services offered. But who facilitates the magic behind these activities?
Lurie Children’s Activity Coordinators and Family Life Center Coordinators are at the forefront of patient and family care. Emerging over 20 years ago, our activity coordinators arrange and implement programs and activities for patients of all ages and abilities. They facilitate activities that reflect the appropriate developmental levels of patients and siblings. Our Activity Coordinators partner with a multidisciplinary team to plan and execute programs and events for children and families we serve.
“We believe in empowering patient and family voice and choice through socialization, normative play and community collaboration,” says Boe Fry, Activity Coordinator.
Coordinators are primarily located in the Family Life Center and in ambulatory clinics at the main hospital and Clark/Deming location and are a part of the Children’s Services team. The Family Life Center has multiple areas for patients and families to engage in socialization, play and respite, including: a classroom, teen lounge, salon, play area, developmental playroom, library, art and music spaces, the Skylight TV Production Center and “Sam I Am Corner.”
Our four Activity Coordinators and two Family Life Center Coordinators at Lurie Children’s are generously supported through philanthropy. Each coordinator brings a unique lens to their work supporting both inpatients and outpatients of all ages. Regardless, our coordinators have the same goal — to provide patients and families with positive outlets for experiential learning and happiness in midst of medical treatment.
“Our coordinators have diverse educational backgrounds and life experiences that bring a lot of depth to patient care,” says Susan Ruohonen, Senior Director of Family Services. “They create a collaborative work flow focusing on creativity, innovation, customer service and community partnerships. In conjunction with all areas of Lurie Children’s, our coordinators bring opportunities to patient families, while also educating others on the unique nuances of a pediatric healthcare environment.”
Intentional planning and education are two foundational elements integrated within the role of activity coordinators. Otherwise known as “jack of all trades,” their expertise is endless, as they have a purpose behind everything they do.
Coordinators also facilitate programing geared to specific ages and diagnosis. Our teen coordinator helps provide experienes and events specific to our patients and siblings age 13 and older including the highly popular prom night for our teen inpatients each year.
The Beads of Courage program coodinator for Hematology, Oncology, Neuro-oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation provides patients undergoing cancer treatment to express themselves through arts in medicine.
Coordinators value outpatient services just as much as inpatient. Our outpatient activity coordinators have play programs in the waiting areas to reduce children’s anxiety while waiting for diagnostic tests and physician visits. They help children return to a baseline behavior after receiving a diagnostic test or visit and work with our clinics to deliver end-of-treatment rewards.
“Our activity coordinators fulfill the unique ways in which we bring opportunities to patients and families directly and indirectly,” says Ruohonen. “The success of their role pertains to their collaboration with multiple departments and professionals throughout Lurie Children’s, so they gain a deep understanding of creative ways in which to make the patient family experience distinct.”