Child Life "Plays" an Important Role in Patients Overcoming Fear
One of the biggest challenges facing children when they are admitted to the hospital is the anxiety over what is about to happen to them. That’s why Shriners Children’s Texas provides a team of child life specialists, and a music therapist, to help reduce the stress sometimes associated with their care.
Equipped with advanced training in child development, specialists are skilled in the delivery of coping techniques, both at the bedside, as well as in the child life center. They ensure patients have an age-appropriate understanding of their healthcare journey.
LaKeisha Holmes, Child Life Supervisor
Holmes became the child life supervisor in August 2023, but for her the role still comes down to one thing: “being with patients and allowing them to have fun.” Holmes began her career at Shriners Children’s in Houston over 17 years ago as a child life assistant. While working full-time, she earned the credentials to become a child life specialist, and later transferred to the Galveston location when the two hospitals merged.
“The best part of my day is patient care,” said Holmes. “Being able to support them and letting them know that we are here makes the difference.” After long days of therapy and care from doctors, Holmes and her team love to see patients “do the fun stuff and just be kids,” which to her has become the most valuable experience she’s known while working for Shriners Children’s Texas.
Morgan Kennedy – Child Life Specialist II
Kennedy is a Galveston native with a special love for children. She began her career at Shriners Children’s Texas as a full-time child life assistant. Soon after, she returned to school to earn a master’s degree in child life.
One of her greatest joys is working with Dec My Room and Little Wish, two organizations that, according to Kennedy, “make being in the hospital more comfortable and bring joy to our patients.”
She spends most of her days working in the PICU with kids, and much of her time in the tub room. Her favorite part of being a child life specialist is “seeing the lightbulb go off” for kids when they understand the care that they’re about to receive and realize they can “handle it.” She finds it gratifying to see them learn about procedures and equipment, and enjoys being able to relieve their anxiety.
Angela Espinoza, Music Therapist – Board Certified
If you’re ever passing by a patient’s room and hear singing and laughter, chances are it’s our music therapist, Angela Espinoza, comforting a patient who is receiving care. A native of Miami, Florida, Espinoza’s college education included classes in music theory, various sciences and psychology. After completing an internship in Houston, Espinoza loved the city so much that she decided to stick around. She applied to Shriners Children’s Texas, and for her it has been a “perfect fit.”
Espinoza’s job duties change daily, as she sees both in-patients and out-patients. One day she may be providing musical comfort to a child receiving treatment in the tub room, and the next, she may be using musical instruments to help a patient reach physical therapy goals, such as using drums to extend their arms and legs.
“My whole heart and my whole life has been centered on providing music therapy services,” she said. “The work that I do is exciting because it’s emotional and vulnerable, yet special. It can also be really fun helping kids make as much ‘noise’ as possible.”
Dinora Flores, Child Life Assistant
Originally from Honduras, Flores was a teacher for over 20 years in her home country. After immigrating to the United States, Flores joined the Shriners Children’s Texas team as a member of the Environmental Services Department. Then, she transferred to the Child Life Department, where she recently celebrated her one year anniversary as a child life assistant.
Flores spends the majority of her days enjoying time with patients and their parents. She loves teaching them how to to crochet and macramé, a skill that they take back to their home countries. Children love challenging her in games of pool and Xbox. Sometimes, she even lets them win!
Flores says she loves being a part of the “second chance” that families get at life after experiencing a tragedy.
Learn more about Shriners Children's child life services.
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