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Downstate Times

The Newsletter for SUNY Downstate
University Hospital of Brooklyn

Child Life Technology Brings Smiles to Young Patients

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Play with a purpose: Flanked by Lisa Smith, Shawhan Ali, and Lou and Larry Riccio, young Jayden Phillip enjoys trying out the new iPad Mini.


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A hospital stay for any length of time can be a stressful experience for children. For 40 years, Downstate's Child Life Program has been helping youngsters overcome their fear and discomfort by means of therapeutic play. Now, thanks to the generosity of Child Life Technology, a philanthropic group of banking industry software developers and vendors, young patients at The Children's Hospital of SU NY Downstate can enjoy a new way to pass the time and forget their cares.

Lou Riccio, director of Child Life Technology, has donated four iPad Minis and four iPods to the Child Life Program, with the promise of four more of each to come. These hand-held devices will keep children happy and occupied during oncology treatments, dialysis, and other lengthy procedures.

Mr. Riccio and his group are also creating an electronic prep book for children and their parents. To be written in several languages and in a style appropriate for children, it aims to relieve their anxiety at the prospect of hospitalization by showing in advance who they will meet and what it will be like when they come in for treatment.

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"We are grateful to Lou Riccio and his team for making our patients' hospital stays easier," said Lisa Smith, director of the Child Life and Parenting Education Program. She thanked Larry Riccio, an oncology admixture pharmacist consultant at Downstate who is Lou's cousin, for proposing the project and helping to get it approved. She also gave much credit to Shawhan Ali, lead programmer analyst for Downstate's Information Services, who assisted in its implementation.