At just 17 years old, Tonaly was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes long-lasting inflammation and ulcers (sores) in the digestive tract. Tonaly was taken to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital where she suddenly found herself hospitalized for almost three months. She was in constant and oftentimes unbearable pain; her mother trying to be strong as she watched her daughter fighting to cope with her condition.
Then she met Lisa, a certified Child Life Specialist assigned to her unit. Lisa taught Tonaly techniques to deal with her pain and was there supporting her every step of her treatment, which has included three surgeries. She also served as relief to her mother, “I didn’t want my daughter to see me cry” said her mother, Juana. “When Lisa arrived at that moment – she would come and take my place.”
Certified Child Life Specialists like Lisa help assess children’s psychosocial and developmental needs in order to create an individualized plan of care through advocacy, education, and empowerment; thereby normalizing the hospital environment and promoting best possible outcomes. The Child Life team at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital strives to enrich the hospital experience for their patients and families through pre-surgical orientation, music therapy, and play spaces.
This is the latest in a continuing series of videos that I’ve been producing for Miami Children’s Health Foundation, who help raise funds and awareness for Nicklaus Children’s Hospital – this is Tonaly’s (and Lisa’s!) story…
To help support children like Tonaly, please visit www.mchf.org/donate