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Meet the Team

Inpatient Units:
Melissa Epley, BS, CCLS
Laurie Lycan, BS, CCLS
Tara Loether, BS, Child Life Specialist
Michelle Petersen, BS, CCLS
Debbie Snyder, BS, CCLS
Nikki Walker, MS, CCLS, Lead Child Life Specialist

Inpatient child life specialist work to decrease anxiety associated with hospitalization, provide developmental support, and facilitate play opportunities.  Child life specialists want your child to positively cope with their hospital experience and can encourage outlets for emotional and physical expression.  Child life is available to assist your child in understanding new diagnoses, teach about upcoming procedures, and provide procedural distraction to aid in positive coping.  Empowering your child with accurate information clears up common misconceptions, alleviates anxiety associated with unfamiliar events, and allows your child to feel confident.  Child Life also facilitates several special events such as Hospital Bingo, Pet Therapy and Movie Nights for patients, siblings and families.

Haley Fitzpatrick, BS, CCLS

The Radiology child life specialist works to decrease anxiety associated with procedures and encourage positive coping during your visit. The Radiology child life specialist is available to prepare your child for their procedure using developmentally appropriate explanations, pictures, and medical equipment. This type of procedural preparation can increase your child’s understanding and help them develop a positive coping plan. Procedural distraction and support can also be provided by the child life specialist to promote positive coping and cooperation during Radiology procedures.

Hematology/Oncology Clinic and Infusion Center:
Christy Hogan, BS, CCLS

The Hematology/Oncology Clinic and Infusion Center child life specialist works with patients and families in the outpatient setting.  Child life specialists promote effective coping through play, preparation, education, and self-expression activities.  Child life specialists additionally work with patients on diagnosis teaching, coping with a chronic illness, and provide support resources. As advocates of family-centered care, child life specialists work in partnership with multidisciplinary team members to meet the unique emotional, developmental and cultural needs of each child and family.

Laura Deacy, BS, CCLS
Cassie Iwansky, BS, CCLS
Emily Ready, BS, CCLS

Child life specialists in the CARES unit provide developmentally appropriate preparation for your child’s upcoming surgery as well as preparation for various medical procedures. Child life specialists provide distraction to help children cope with difficult or painful procedures, and help to normalize the environment by providing appropriate activities for children prior to their surgery or procedure.

Facility Dog Handler:
Britta Carr, BS, CCLS

Britta provides therapeutic interventions with Children’s only Facility Dog, Sven.  Sven is a Golden Retriever and has been at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center since November 2016. Sven and Britta’s services are consult based by the referral of a child life specialist.

Their full-time work provides an incentive to encourage children to ambulate after surgery and builds relationships with chronic and complex patients. Britta and Sven assist Children’s Rehab team in therapy interventions, encourage positive coping in prolonged or unplanned hospitalization, and assists child life specialists in procedural teaching and support.

Emergency Department:
Jes Felder, BS, CCLS
Kendall Lanning, BS, CCLS       
Emily Schoening, BS, CCLS
Emergency Room child life specialists work to reduce the anxiety, fear, stress, and pain associated with an unexpected trip to the hospital.  Child life specialists provide developmentally appropriate support and education to the patient, siblings, and family members.  Child life is available for hands-on procedural teaching utilizing medical play for a number of procedures.  Child life can provide distraction and support throughout procedures to reduce the anxiety of the patient and family members.  Play is also encouraged by Child Life to help to normalize the environment.

For more information contact:
Nikki Walker, Lead Child Life Specialist