The Associates’ Board will be holding its third annual toy drive to make the emergency department a little warmer for children this holiday season. Whether a child enters the emergency room as a patient or with a family member who is a patient, a simple toy or book can change the hospital experience.
“Medical emergencies are a major disruptor in the lives of patients and their families. Whatever consolation we can provide during these disruptive events are so appreciated by patients and their families,” Andrew Giger, president of the Swedish Covenant Hospital Associates’ Board said. “The Associates Board of the Swedish Covenant Hospital is committed to doing our part by providing toys for children who will be visiting the emergency department this winter.”
The toys serve multiple purposes. They are a tool to keep children occupied, to provide comfort in a scary situation, and to build trust between the hospital staff and children. According to Kimberly Leslie, clinical director of the emergency department, when given a toy, the child thinks of the emergency room staff as being on their side and not as the enemy. The toys also serve as a distraction. When family comes to visit the family member in the emergency department, one of the first things the child does is show the visitor his or her new toy, rather than panicking about the hospitalized family member.
“The staff appreciates it because it allows them to gain trust with the child,” Kim said.
Kim recalls one time last holiday season in which a toy made a difference in a patient’s care. After suffering a seizure, a mother arrived in the emergency room in an ambulance, along with her two young daughters. Her daughters walked in hand-in-hand, and at only 5 years old, Kim could tell that the older sibling, was trying to be brave for her 3-year-old sister. The older sister did her best to hold back her tears and when given a book by the emergency room staff, she kept her little sister busy by reading to her while their mom received care.
Last year, 9,800 children were treated in the emergency department at Swedish Covenant Hospital, which accounts for 20 percent of all emergency room patients. Toys collected during the holiday toy drive last through the holiday season and are given to children only when appropriate.
“As disrupted as their lives may be, our hope is that even something as small as a stuffed animal can bring some needed calm. I encourage you all to join us as we collect toys for those children who need it most,” Andrew said.
The toy drive is led by the Swedish Covenant Hospital Associates’ Board, a group of young professionals that raises funds, increases public awareness and performs community service on behalf of Swedish Covenant Hospital.