The hospital can be a scary place, especially for children. Whether it’s routine lab work to help manage a chronic illness, stitches, or something as simple as a flu shot, kids would rather be anywhere but the hospital.
The use of non-pharmacological distraction techniques has proven to effectively manage these experiences, from blowing bubbles and reading books, to utilizing technology like iPads. Most recently, Pullman Regional Hospital began using Virtual Reality (VR) devices, thanks to the work of the Center for Learning & Innovation and grant funds from the Auxiliary.
Immersion in the Virtual Reality World
Research shows that the use of VR for pediatric distraction is highly effective. It’s unique from other forms of distraction as it simultaneously engages multiple senses and requires undivided attention, keeping a child’s mind engaged and distracted from the procedure.
By immersion in the VR "world," the child is removed from the anxiety-inducing sights and sounds of the medical environment and can effectively escape. The devices have a range of activities to choose from, including interactive games and tours of the world’s most sought-after travel destinations guided by National Geographic.
“My goal is to make the hospital experience the least traumatic it can be. The use of virtual reality really helps make that possible,” says Catherine Wilkins, R.N., Pediatric Care Coordinator, “The parents appreciate it, too, seeing their child engaged rather than anxious. It’s truly beneficial for everyone involved.”
Innovation at Work
The Center for Learning and Innovation at Pullman Regional Hospital was established to explore alternative models of healthcare delivery to help improve the patient experience and stay on the leading edge of technology and innovation.
“Pullman Regional Hospital supports a culture of trying new things, and the Center for Learning & Innovation is the avenue for employees to turn ideas in to practice," said Highfill. "Innovations such as VR are really unique to us, and usually seen at large hospital systems - not at a rural, critical access hospital."
In addition to the Center for Learning and Innovation, the Pullman Regional Hospital Auxiliary also contributed to the purchase of the VR devices. The Auxiliary awards yearly grants to hospital departments purchasing patient comfort items. The request for VR devices fell right in line with the Auxiliary’s mission.
“I’m incredibly grateful to the Auxiliary for helping us make the hospital experience for kids and their families much less intimidating," says Catherine.
If your child is a patient at our Emergency Department or Palouse Pediatrics, please ask about our new VR device and how it might assist in making your visit a more positive experience for your child.