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Reducing pediatric discomfort in imaging

by Lisa Chamoff, Contributing Reporter | March 07, 2022
Pediatrics X-Ray
From the March 2022 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

To many young patients, getting an MR exam can feel like being underwater or on a spaceship, with unfamiliar sights and loud noises. The radiology department at Texas Children's Hospital The Woodlands leans into that feeling, with a CT scanner disguised as a submarine and an MR suite designed to look like outer space, complete with technologists who refer to head coils as space helmets.

The facility worked with a company called Comfort Health Solutions last year to create various themed exam rooms, including one with space murals on the wall and skins covering the Siemens Healthineers scanners. The day the space went live, one of the technologists even donned an astronaut suit with the Texas Children's logo and his name on it, along with a plastic space helmet from Amazon.

“One of the first patients had gotten his MR — everything was great, he loved the room — and he was walking out, I'll never forget, he was holding hands with his mom, and he kind of tugged on mom's arm and the mom bent down and he said, ‘Mom, they even have a real astronaut!’” recalled Traci Foster, who at the time was assistant director of radiology at Texas Children's Hospital The Woodlands.

Fear of imaging exams is common among pediatric patients, and can lead to repeated scans or the need for sedation, which comes with risks. Many hospitals and imaging centers have redesigned spaces to be more welcoming and relaxing for young patients and their families and have staff prepare children for exams, during which they need to remain still.

Foster recalled another young patient who had undergone a number of MR exams under sedation.

“He came in, shortly after we finished up the room, and we were talking about how it's an outer space theme, and he was so excited,” Foster said. “And he did not want to have sedation because he wanted to be able to see the room and basically go to outer space. … The patient was actually able to get through the entire exam; the first time he had had an MR scan without sedation. After the exam, he couldn't wait to come back for his next one.”

David Mathieu, founder and chief creative officer of Comfort Health Solutions, which is Siemens Healthineers’ exclusive patient experience provider, said the experience at Texas Children's Hospital the Woodlands underscores the company’s mission.

“Everyone here at Comfort Health Solutions was extremely honored and excited to work with Traci and her team at Texas Children’s Hospital the Woodlands to transform their suites into wonderful and exciting environments for all young patients,” Mathieu said.

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