Colorful machine distracts hospital kids

Jamaica Hospital unveiled a new wellness tool designed to calm children’s fears when they find themselves intimidated among doctors and nurses.

Sporting colorful fiber optic lights, oil aromatherapy with citrus and lavender scents and soothing music, the Vecta Distraction System provides anxious kids with a playful solace while undergoing medical care.

The machine cost approximately $4,000, funds donated by the Kiwanis Club of Ozone Park.

“Our children are often very nervous . . . they’d rather be home and we understand that,” said Michael Hinck, director of public affairs for Jamaica Hospital. “Our staff tries very hard to make their stay as pleasant as possible, but having something like this machine… will help us in achieving that mission.”

The machine is mobile and can be brought to children’s bedside for many kinds of treatments.

The machine has not officially been implemented at the hospital, but Hinck noted it had recently been used on a particularly distressed child and that it “worked like a charm.”

“Subliminally, the aroma therapy helps calm them down,” Hinck added.

The machine also features a cylindrical, color changing column filled with floating bubbles. Children can manipulate the flow of the bubbles by squeezing a toy ball connected to the device.

Nancy Dicroce, former nurse and life member at the club, worked with staff development at the hospital to determine that the machine was in demand among workers. She then asked around for donations, eventually accruing the necessary funds.

“When we suture children or do intravenous therapy, they scream, they cry, they hold their breath,” said Dicroce. “This machine will distract them.”

Michael Devita, a child life specialist at the hospital, works to ease kids’ transition into a medical environment.

“A lot of kids are uneasy when they come into the hospital, especially the young ones,” said Devita. “Whatever makes them easy at home, we try to copy that.”

In addition to the distraction machine, the child life program aims to get to know the children to make them feel at home, and if possible, verbalize their discomfort and stress.

John Irizarry, a four-year member of the club, owns an air conditioning and heating company.

“In my generation, we never used any of that. They gave you a needle and you cried,” said Irizarry. “But it distracts the child from the terror of being poked with a needle… they don’t understand those things.”


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