Getting my child ready for surgery
Michael Attard is one of two certified child life specialists at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center
Question: In what ways can children become more familiar with the “surgical environment”?
Answer: When kids and their families attend our pre-op program, we introduce them to an array of medical equipment they’ll be interacting with during their surgical experience. I’ll give you an example. At our pre-op class we take vitals (check temp, blood pressure, O2 saturation, etc), and show a brief “muppet” surgery preparation video We also have the kids don surgical attire and head back to the OR room where they’ll be having surgery, so that the children can develop a sense of comfort and familiarity.
Question: What is a Pre-Op Program?
Answer: A pre-op program is a measure put in place that offers children and their families an opportunity to become more familiar with the surgical environment in a safe, non-threatening manner.
Question: Give some examples of “play” scenarios that help children prepare for surgery.
Answer: We prepare children for surgery in the hospital using playful teaching aids, such as preparation dolls, preparation books, play, etc. You can do a lot of great work at home preparing your child for surgery. Explain things at their level using developmentally appropriate language. Let them ask questions. Let your child lead the way, and refer those questions that are tough to answer to the medical staff. We’re always here to help.
Question: Are parents ever more frightened about their children having surgery than the kids are?
Answer: Yes. This is one of the only times in life a parent may feel a total loss of control over the protection of their child, besides college and marriage. I believe it’s reasonable for parents to want to protect their child and look out for them. The great thing about our pre-op program is it’s a perfect place to ask questions and prepare themselves for what it will be like the day of surgery. Our Child Life team is trained to provide family centered care and help the entire family unit cope through the surgical experience resulting in a positive outcome.