4th-graders' bedside manner aids ailing peers 3 girls get hospital tour after creating booklet for youths facing surgery

June 12, 1996|By Kathleen B. Hennelly | Kathleen B. Hennelly,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Three Bryant Woods Elementary fourth-graders got a taste of medicine yesterday from Howard County General Hospital in return for creating a booklet to help children overcome their fears of surgery and illness.

As part of their gifted-and-talented program, the students -- Reva Eskinazi, Hannah Schwab and Becky Wolozin -- worked all year to research a problem and find a constructive solution.

Because two of the girls have parents who are doctors and they all knew people who had been hospitalized, the girls decided to put together a book of games and puzzles for children facing surgery.

"We wanted to make sick kids feel more comfortable," Reva said. "We did a lot of work. We had to do research and interviews and make the book."

They got expert advice on what to include in the book from instructor Leslie Weinburg, registered nurses and Pam Karwan, vice president of public relations for the hospital.

Their booklet contains crossword puzzles, connect-the-dot pictures and information on what to do before surgery.

"We really hope it works and helps other kids," Becky said.

The students took a stack of the booklets to the hospital and were given a tour in return. Lucie Owens, a consultant for Aspen Healthcare Inc., which is responsible for the development and management of the new Center for Ambulatory Surgery, was their tour guide in the independent addition to the hospital, which opened June 3.

The girls giggled in the locker room as they put on surgical scrubs that the hospital provided. Donning paper headgear, masks and cotton uniforms, they excitedly scuttled down the halls and rounded the corners sliding in their paper booties.

"She's so excited," said Hannah's mother, Lauri Schwab, as she snapped pictures of her not-so-camera-shy daughter and her friends. "All of them are. Their smiles are so big you can't even see their eyes."

They tested their blood pressure and were shown intravenous and X-ray equipment. They were taken through the sterilization rooms, children's room, storage and then were shown an operating room.

Wide-eyed and excited, the girls held their hands behind their backs so as not to touch anything.

They popped questions to the nurses and technicians.

"So, you're a surgical assistant," Reva said. "Does that mean that you have to know everything?"

Penny Bane laughed and responded, "I try."

"Oh, what's that?" Hannah asked the sterilization technician, pointing to a large metal needle. After she was told that it was used in the removal of tonsils, Hannah shuddered and said, "Ugh. I hope I never have to get my tonsils out. I hate needles."

When Owens asked at the end of the tour whether the girls had any questions, they asked only to keep the surgical masks. In addition, they were given bags containing Lifesavers first aid kits, pencils and Frisbees.

The girls thanked everyone and added quietly -- while their parents and teacher were talking -- that their trip to the hospital was a lot more fun than their social studies class would have been.

Pub Date: 6/12/96

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