Published on September 10, 2019

Reading Hospital Improves Patient Care for Children By Adding Child Life Specialist in Pediatric Emergency Department

West Reading, PA., September 9, 2019 - Requiring emergency medical care can be scary at any age, but that is especially true for pediatric patients. To reduce young patients' anxiety and improve their care, Reading Hospital has hired a Child Life Specialist who supports patients and families in the hospital's new James & Deborah Radwanski Pediatric Emergency Department.

After opening its colorful, welcoming Pediatric Emergency Department in February 2019, Reading Hospital hired a Child Life Specialist this summer to further provide high-quality, family-centered patient care. The Child Life Specialist offers everything from therapeutic play, to age-appropriate education of what to expect, to identifying ways that each individual patient will feel more comfortable with their care.

"Even in our family-friendly Pediatric Emergency Department, the fact is - emergency medical care is stressful," said Charles Barbera, MD, Vice President, Pre-Hospital and Unscheduled Care, Tower Health and Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Reading Hospital. "Our new Child Life Specialist, who comes to us with 25 years experience, is here to help reduce kids' fear and anxiety. The comfort patients receive can improve their cooperation during procedures and enhance their experience in this medical setting, all of which can lead to better health outcomes and a better experience here."

The Child Life Specialist, Sandra Schreffler, MS, CCLS, is working primarily in Reading Hospital's Pediatric Emergency Room, but also is working with pediatric patients admitted to the hospital and is consulting with adult inpatient units where children of adult patients may be spending time. Reading Hospital's Pediatric Emergency Department includes 16 rooms specifically designed for pediatric patients; a specialized pediatric "triage" area; highly experienced pediatric physicians, specialists, nurses and physician assistants; child-specific medical equipment; a family friendly waiting room with interactive games and a virtual fish tank; and accommodations that ensure children with special needs are as comfortable as possible throughout their visit.

"We have invested a large amount of energy and effort in developing specialized emergency care for our community's youngest residents, because their health and well-being are so important to us," Dr. Barbera said. "Hiring a Child Life Specialist is one more example of our commitment."

"I am honored to work as Reading Hospital's first Child Life Specialist," Schreffler said. "Every day is different - from helping patients prepare for procedures to helping reduce their fear and anxiety through child play and other therapies. It is very gratifying, because I see firsthand that providing support and a calm environment improves young patients' outcomes, reduces their length of stay and increases their satisfaction with their experience."

About Reading Hospital

Reading Hospital is the flagship, Magnet Recognized, acute care hospital of Tower Health. Located in West Reading, Pa., Reading Hospital is a 714-bed hospital that is home to many top-tier specialty care centers, including Reading HealthPlex, McGlinn Cancer Institute, Miller Regional Heart Center, Emergency Department, Level I Trauma Center and Beginnings Maternity Center, which houses the region's only Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). With more than 1,000 physicians and providers across 46 locations, Reading Hospital has been recognized for its quality outcomes and clinical expertise across services lines. It is listed as one of America's 100 Best Hospitals for three consecutive years and received a 5-Star Rating from CMS. For more information, visit