Prepping Kids for Surgery

Cohen Children’s Medical Center helps children with special needs feel more at ease

The staff at Cohen Children’s Medical Center understands that children with autism, Down syndrome or other special needs may require extra care during routine presurgical processes. Cohen Children’s staff uses a team approach to meet each child’s needs and to create a comfortable experience. The doctors and nurses at Cohen Children’s are trained and equipped to provide your child with the care required, while adding the extra touches that make all the difference.


Preparing for surgery can be intimidating for parents and frightening for children. Nothing can eliminate all of the stress before surgery, but our specially designed perioperative care program for children aims to help ease some of the anxiety.

Our presurgical testing program is a tool used with every child before surgery. A family interview is conducted by a nurse practitioner and a child life specialist to help determine specific concerns or triggers that need to be addressed, said Gloria Collura, RN, director of patient care services for pediatric perioperative services.

“If there are sensitivities, we find out what triggers them — it can be a sound, a smell, or it can be where you place the blood pressure cuff. We learn what works best and enter the information into the patient’s history to make the whole team aware.”


Our new perioperative suite was designed to be a warm, calming environment for young patients, while still providing access to the monitoring of anesthesia and other perioperative needs. Everything from the paint color to the aroma in the room has been thoughtfully considered, said Ms. Collura. Here are some specific features in the perioperative suites:

  • All rooms have dimmer switches and special lighting, which is beneficial for children with light sensitivities.
  • Weighted blankets are available to help calm and relax children with autism, sensory processing disorders and other special needs.
  • Hush curtains positioned between each patient area help absorb and block sound. “These curtains are designed to lower the decibel level,” said Ms. Collura. In addition, individuals working in these areas are aware of possible noise sensitivities, so they do their part to maintain a serene environment.

Another important component of the perioperative environment is the inclusion of a new Vecta Distraction Station. The Vecta machine is a multisensory projector that produces tactile stimulation, aromatherapy, music therapy and other relaxing and captivating programming, Ms. Collura said. It may not eliminate all fears, but it can offer a safe distraction and relieve some of the stress, anxiety and pain.


The staff aims to reduce stress and encourage comfort the moment your child arrives for surgery. Instead of undergoing the general admitting process, patients are admitted from the perioperative room, eliminating an additional stop in the process, Ms. Collura said.

As soon as patients are settled into their rooms, occupational therapists and physical therapists are available to help respond to triggers and create safe distractions while the patients are prepared for surgery.

Cohen Children’s understands the challenges and unique care requirements of children with special needs. Our highly skilled staff is experienced and ready to create an individualized plan that ensures appropriate, compassionate care for your child.

You can make a difference. Your support is vital to the success of Cohen Children’s Medical Center. To find out how you can be there for the thousands of patients and families who need care each year, call 516-465-2562.

Read the next article in the Winter 2015 issue of Kids First: NHL Hall-of-Famer Surprises Teen Celebrating Newly Repaired Heart

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