Child Life Specialists

What is a Child Life Specialist?

Lurie Children’s tries dilige​ntly 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. 

Becca Mitsos, Child Life Specialist for Lurie Children's Surgical Services, shares how child life specialists play a critical role as part of a child's healthcare team.

 

 

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 Internship

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.

For a list of books, movies and apps that may be helpful for children in the hospital, reference our Resource List.

View our Resource List

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 | 312.227.3267rmeyers@luriechildrens.org 
Available Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. — Child Life Manager

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

Geanine Hunt, M.Ed., CCLS | 312.227.3338ghunt@luriechildrens.org
Available Monday through Friday 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. — 19th floor inpatients, Clinical Research Center, Epilepsy Monitoring Unit

Amanda Anderson MS, CCLS | 312.227.3363asanderson@luriechildrens.org
Available Monday through Friday 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. — 21st floor inpatients

Katy Dhein, CCLS | 312.227.3253KDhein@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.

Lauren Schuler, CCLS | 312.227.6286lschuler@luriechildrens.org
Available Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. — Special Infectious Diseases Clinic (Lincoln Park Outpatient Center)

Beth K. Ryan, M.Ed., CCLS | 312.227.6398bkryan@luriechildrens.org
Available Monday through Wednesday 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. — Clark/Deming Outpatient Clinics, Lekotek Leader

Lori A. Esch, MS, CCLS | 312.227.7925lesch@luriechildrens.org
Available Monday through Friday 6 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. — Westchester Outpatient Clinics

Lura Carstensen, CCLS | 312.227.3294lcarstensen@luriechildrens.org
Available Monday- Friday 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. — Hematology/Oncology Outpatient Clinic and hematology inpatients

Brittany Smith, CCLS | 312.227.3347basmith@luriechildrens.org
Available Monday and Wednesday 11 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. — Surgery, Transplant, ENT, Nephrology, Urology, Hepatology, GI

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

Megan O'Connell, MS, CCLS | 312.227.3334mroconnell@luriechildrens.org
Available Tuesday through Saturday – 8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. — Pediatric Intensive Care

Sara Stewart | 312.227.3287sstewart@luriechildrens.org
Available Monday through Friday – 8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. — Inpatient Oncology

Lauren Thompson, CCLS | 312.227.6397lathompson@luriechildrens.org
Available Monday and Friday – 8 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. — Clark Deming Clinics

Meghan Worrell, MS, CCLS | 312.227.0218mworrell@luriechildrens.org
Available daily – 2:30 p.m.- 1 a.m. — Emergency Department

Joe Weismantel | 312.227.3942jweismantel@luriechildrens.org
Cardiology