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New York Methodist Hospital establishes Child Life Program

January 29, 2016 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Gabrielle Marden, certified child life specialist and director of New York Methodist Hospital’s Child Life Program, with a patient in NYM’s pediatric emergency room. Photo courtesy of NYM
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New York Methodist Hospital (NYM) has established a Child Life Program that provides children with the emotional and psychosocial support that helps them and their families cope with inpatient hospitalizations and visits to the emergency room. 

The program is led by Gabrielle Marden, a certified child life specialist who collaborates with the medical team to advocate for the needs of the family. A child life specialist can assess each patient and work to minimize the anxiety and stress caused by illnesses and medical procedures.

“To children, the Child Life Program manifests itself as a warm and friendly face who reads books with them, plays games with them and is there for them during a difficult time,” said Marden. “I’m more than happy to just be known to the children I work with as ‘the one with the toys and the games!’

“What might look like a round of ‘I Spy’ with a patient in the pediatric emergency room can provide the distraction that allows his or her doctor to draw a much-needed blood sample or perform a test while the child’s attention is with me,” she said.

Other interventions that the Child Life Program can provide in the hospital include developmentally appropriate preparation for tests and procedures, introductions to positive coping techniques that help deal with illness and hospitalization, and therapeutic play and self-expression activities to promote emotional development and normalize the hospital environment.

“Young patients perceive illnesses and hospital environments differently from adults, and they may be fearful or confused,” said Dr. Pramod Narula, chair of the hospital’s Department of Pediatrics. “The services provided by our Child Life Program can ensure that a family’s experience of ‘healing’ at New York Methodist includes both medical care and emotional support for their children.”

Additional information about NYM’s Child Life Program is available at


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