Spring, 1999 The Children's Sickle Center, San Antonio, Texas

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Child Life helps children cope with illness

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The Dr. Howard A. Britton Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center strives to treat the whole child. The physicians, nurses and lab technicians take care of the physical health of the child. A Child Life Specialist is present to provide care for the social, emotional and developmental health of the child. The Child Life staff at the center consists of one Certified Child Life Specialist, one part-time Child Life Assistant and several playroom volunteers. The goals of the Child Life team are:

  • To help the child cope with the stress and anxiety of the hospital/medical experience;
  • To promote the child's normal growth and development while in the health care setting and after returning home.

In order to achieve these goals the Child Life team provides developmentally stimulating toys and activities. The playroom provides a comfortable environment for patients and their families. Child Life Specialists also provide emotional support and diversional activities for patients during procedures. The Child Life Specialist also promotes and advocates for the use of Emla cream during needle sticks.

The Child Life/Child Development Department at Christus Santa Rosa Children's Hospital also sponsors special events in and outside of the hospital. On Tuesday, May 4, the Child Life Department is sponsoring "Hospital Discovery" at the San Antonio Children's Museum as a part of National Children and Health Care Week. The event will take place from 9 a.m. until 12 noon. The museum is located at 305 East Houston Street. Admission is $4 for children and adults. Children under 2 years are admitted at no charge. "Hospital Discovery" will consist of exhibits by the Radiology, Laboratory, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Pastoral Care, Child Life and Surgical Departments. The public is welcome.

- Kimberley Johnson
Certified Child Life Specialist
South Texas Sickle Cell Center


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Support Group starting in May Everyone Welcome!

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We have started a new Support Group for parents and caregivers of children with sickle cell disease and would love to have you join us! Beginning in May, we will meet on the first Thursday of every month from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Typically, we have a different speaker each month who will discuss various issues related to caring for a child with sickle cell disease. Some of our speakers will address such issues as the "basics" of sickle cell disease, as well as nutrition and encouraging children to eat healthier food. Other topics to be addressed include summer camp for sickle cell patients, Head Start educational programs, homebound school services, psychoeducational testing, parenting skills and coping with oppositional behavior, as well as case management/funding issues. We will invite speakers who will be of interest to you, the members of the group, so please bring your suggestions to future meetings!

There is no charge to attend our support group meetings and everyone is welcome! We meet on the 8th floor of Christus Santa Rosa Children's Hospital in the parent lounge, room C837. Please join us at our next meeting. For more information call (210) 704-2987.

- Leanne Embry, M.A.
Psychology Staff
South Texas Sickle Cell Center


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A 'routine' is good for kids

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alarm clockSometimes adults use "routine" to refer to something that is boring. But for children, having a regular routine, both at home and at school, can be one of the most helpful things we can provide. Children with a predictable routine tend to feel more secure, have less anxiety and are able to organize themselves more readily.

What we mean by a predictable routine is having a regular time for meals and even sitting around the table together. It also means having a regular bedtime and a regular time to begin the day. While adults may enjoy "sleeping in" on the weekends and staying up late, children can less easily accomodate to these changes. They may become grumpy and irritable and less able to pay attention and do what we expect them to do. A regular schedule for children - both preschool age and school age - seems to provide a sense of predictability and trust from children and their parents benefit in many ways.

- Judith W. Grant, Ph.D.
South Texas Sickle Cell Center

Doctor's Corner


Research news

The dried out sickle cell...

For a long time scientists have known that a sickled cell is relatively dried out and it is felt that tis aggravates the sickling process which leads to the symptoms and damage associated with sickle cell diseases. The less dehydrated the cell, the less likely it is to sickle.

At a symposium on Sickle Cell Diseases held in conjunction with the December 1998 meeting of the American Association of Hematology, comprised of blood specialists from all over the world, ways that drying out might be reduced was discussed. These include the use of a known anti-fungal compund, Clotrimazole, ways in which more magnesium and potassium might help and inhalations of nitric oxide which changes the oxygen delivery of red blood cells. For example, preliminary research in France suggests that administration of a magnesium compund reduced the duration of pain rises in 20 patients.

The bottom line is that besides bone marrow transplantations, tranfusions, and hydroxyurea we still need more and better medicine to help sickle cell patients.

The research continues...

- Howard Britton, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Pediatric Hematologist
South Texas Children's Sickle Cell Center


National meeting news

The 23rd annual meeting of the National Sickle Cell Program was held in San Francisco, March 6-9, 1999. The convention was sponsored by the Northern California Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center, Sickle Cell Disease Scientific Research Group, and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Large numbers of people from treatment centers, hospitals, universities and research groups were well represented.

Basic science, clinical trials and multi-center studies and research programs reported and shared their findings in large plenary sessions. Special interest groups met and shared experiences and planned for future direction strategies. The Poster Session and abstracts were displayed and as always stimulated much interchange and discussion among physicians, nurses, researchers, social workers and psychologists.

Sickle cell disease continues to present a challenge for state of the art treatment and cure. It was a good meeting, and many came away with new ideas to implement in their treatment centers.

See you next year where the convention will be held in Philadelphia, April 8-11, 2000.

- Yvonne Shannon, RN, MSN
Sickle Cell Nurse Coordinator
Sickle Cell Center

For your information


flashing red check markA checklist to childproofing your home

red heart Remove all small objects that pose a choking hazard from the changing table, coffee tables, end tables and reachable countertops.

red heart Make sure that vitamins and medicines (especially iron pills) are removed from the kitchen table and kept in a locked out-of-reach cabinet.

red heart Keep coins, pen knives, nail clippers, curling irons and the like out of reach.

red heart Make sure that pot handles on the stove point INWARD and use the BACK burners.

red heart Keep chairs and step stools away from counters and the stove.

red heart Get a high chair that's sturdy and has a seat belt with a crotch strap.

red heart Place house plants out of reach.

red heart Make sure heavy objects (televisions, speakers, floor lamps) are secure and cannot be tipped over.

red heart Remove unnecessary appliances and extension cords.

red heart Place knives and sharp utensils out of reach.

red heart Put plug protectors in unused electrical outlets.

red heart Cover any sharp corners on your furniture.

red heart Keep a bottle of SYRUP OF IPECAC (one once can be obtained without a prescription) to induce vomiting in case of accidental poisoning.

red heart Place a barrier around the fireplace.

red heart Install gates in front of stairs.

red heart Install safety latches on all cabinets containing harmful substances (cosmetics, cleaning supplies and medicines).

red heart Do not put kerosene or gasoline in soft drink bottles.


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boy snorkeling The Sickle Cell Association of the Texas Gulf Coast is ready for another five days of fun and activities at the new camp site.

The dates are Monday, July 5, through Friday, July 9. All children interested in attending need to request an application. Please contact Yvonne Shannon, RN, MSN, at (210) 704-3110.

We are encouraging children, ages 6-13, to apply as soon as possible. Many great activities are being planned for you by the staff. If you like swimming, fishing, sports, ropes course, crafts and many other fun activities--this camp is for YOU. Most of all, you will meet new people and make new friends. Join us this year at CAMP SKY.

- Yvonne Shannon, RN, MSN
Sickle Cell Nurse Coordinator


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Children's Hospital

The Children's Sickle Cell Center
519 West Houston Street
San Antonio, Texas 78307-3198
(210) 704-2187 (800) 227-3618
(After hours, call 704-2011 and ask for Hematologist on call.)

Anne-Marie Langevin, MD
Chief, Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology-UTHSC-SA
Howard A Britton, MD, FAAP
Medical Director, Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist
Reginald Moore, MD
Associate Medical Director, Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist
Javier R. Kane, MD
Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist
Anthony Infante, MD, PhD
Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist Immunologist
Paul J. Thomas, MD, FAAP
Director, Pediatric Oncology Clinical Services
Shafqat Shah, MD
Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist
Leanne Embry, PhD
Psychology Fellow/Assistant Professor
Elisa Ornelas, LSW
Sickle Cell Social Worker
Yvonne Shannon, RN, MSN
Sickle Cell Disease Nurse Coordinator
Editor of the Sickle Cell Rapper
(210) 704-3110

Rosario Ocampo
Administrative Assistant

Newborn Screening Sickle Cell Disease Email

Last updated November 3, 2010