Health Sciences North hopes new 'distraction room' will put kids at ease

Tianna Robinson is no stranger to hospital rooms.

Hospital devotes space to kids undergoing painful treatments

Tianna Robinson with her mother, Lindsey Manary, is saying Health Science's North new distraction room— a special room where kids can be distracted during painful procedures— is 'adventurous' (Jan Lakes/CBC)

Tianna Robinson is no stranger to hospital rooms.

The 11-year-old suffers from myasthenia gravis, a rare autoimmune disease that affects the nerves and muscles of people afflicted with it.

She requires monthly 35 g blood transfusions, a 4-hour process that has increased in frequency to every two weeks as previous treatments stopped working.

Like other kids who endure painful treatments at the hospital, Robinson is often ushered into hospital "distraction rooms"  - places where kids can take their minds off the transfusion.

But like Robinson told CBC's Morning North, sometimes even the distraction room can be an uneasy place.

Robinson said the hospital room she had to visit at Health Sciences North "had supplies everywhere and looked scary."

Health Science's North new distraction room offers kids undergoing painful procedures the chance to focus on bright, colourful surroundings during their treatment. (Health Sciences North)

Enter HSN and radio station KICX. Through a partnership with the NEO Kids Foundation, the group has built a new distraction room called the Kids Club House room.

The room celebrated its opening Thursday, compete with ceiling murals, TVs, 400 flashing LED lights and a tree house that hides the sight of medical equipment.

It immediately got the thumbs up from Robinson. She called it "adventurous."

"I thought the room was very colourful," she said. "Kids really like colourful things. So I think it will be really great."

"It's a really big upgrade."

Long-term health effects of fear and anxiety

Carolyn Marshall, a nurse clinician in the pediatric unit at Health Science North, said the old distraction room could actually induce anxiety or fear in patients, which over time could have long-term health effects.

"Our old treatment room was very old, very sterile,and all the medical equipment was just out there," Marshall said. "We had no room for parents, definitely the opposite of what we have now."

Carolyn Marshall, a nurse clinician in the pediatric unit at Health Sciences North, says the addition of a new distraction room shows the hospital is committed to pediatric care in Sudbury. (Jan Lakes/CBC)

The new distraction room has ample space for parents, whose presence can help set kids at ease.

"[Parents] can help us choose a distraction technique for their children," Marshall said. "We can choose an activity, or a passive thing, like the birds on the mural, so that experience will hopefully help the patient to have less fear."

"Usually the procedure will actually go better," she said.

That news sits well with Robinson's mother, Lindsey Manary.

"Its amazing," Manary said. "I think she'll be very comfortable right now."