Comfort Zone at the UVM Medical Center
The Comfort Zone at The University of Vermont Children's Hospital provides safe procedural sedation for infants and children in a child-friendly, family centered environment — the only program of its kind in Vermont.
Infants and children who are in need of radiology exams and other services are treated here in the Comfort Zone. There are times when a child may be moved to other areas of the hospital for a specific procedure, such as MRI, CT or endoscopy, but many procedures are able to be performed within the setting of the Comfort Zone.
Our health care professionals work closely with you and your child to provide the highest degree of comfort possible before, during and following a procedure. The comprehensive Comfort Zone care team includes:
- Pediatric nurse specialists
- Child life specialists
- Parents and families
Child and Family-Friendly Space
The space is decorated with bright colors and murals, with a wide variety of age-appropriate toys and games for children, televisions in the exam rooms, and a waiting area where children and their families can relax. The Comfort Zone is adjacent to procedure rooms where most pediatric procedures take place.
The unique space allows families to stay together and staff members to escort family members in and out of procedure rooms. The space also has a circular traffic flow, where children end where they began, allowing patients and their families a familiar and appropriate place to reunite. Patients and families also encounter the same familiar faces before and after their procedures.
The Comfort Zone provides procedural sedation for infants and children in need of radiology exams and other services, including:
- CT scans
- Pediatric Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Electroencephalograms (EEG)
- Other imaging studies
- Bone marrow procedures
- Lumbar puncture
- Botox injections
- Voiding cystourethrograms (VCUG)
Child Life Specialists
Child life specialists and pediatric nurse specialists on staff in the Comfort Zone help ease the anxiety children sometimes feel during medical experiences.
For pediatric patients, that means sharing information to help children and their families understand a diagnosis or medical procedure prior to treatment.
Comfort often comes in the form of therapeutic play, including talking through and practicing some of the things a child will do to understand and cope with a medical experience at University of Vermont Children's Hospital. Preparation can also include medical play with a doll, blowing bubbles to relax, and handling some of the equipment (an IV line, for instance) a patient will see during a procedure.
Part of the child life specialist's job is also to help patients and their siblings express feelings and emotions prior to and after a procedure.
Spinal Anesthesia for Babies: A Safe, Effective Approach
6-month-old Mira Barr is awake and comfortable even though she is undergoing abdominal surgery. This remarkable scene is courtesy of the use of pain blockers delivered via the spine instead of the normal approach of putting her under general anesthesia, which some studies indicate may cause brain impairments. The spinal technique was pioneered at the UVM Children's Hospital 40 years ago, but it is still not used by the vast majority of hospitals even though it has proven to be effective and better for babies.
Download the Wall Street Journal Article: A Less Risky Anesthesia for Babies