HOUSTON (January 25, 2008)

Hospitalized children and their loved ones have a new partner at Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital. Julie McCarthy, Child Life Specialist, who has been with Memorial Hermann for 15 years, recently joined the Southeast campus. The addition of a child life specialist is a key component of the expanded Women's and Children's services at Southeast. The hospital recently opened a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for babies born as early as 28 weeks.

Child Life Specialists make hospitalization as comfortable as possible for pediatric patients and their families by keeping them informed about what to expect during the child's stay. They also provide emotional support, therapeutic play, positive interactions, developmental interventions, and recreational opportunities to help families cope with the stresses of hospitalization.

"I knew Memorial Hermann Southeast is one of the best hospitals, and they really care about their patients," McCarthy says about her decision to join the Southeast team. McCarthy will also work with the family to meet the child's educational needs by assisting the family in enrolling their child into homebound school programs, as well as provide educational community outreach programs when needed.

McCarthy says that she was not looking for a career in Child Life, but it found her. She had plans of following in her mother's footsteps and becoming a nurse. After seeing first hand the work that a Child Life Specialist does, however, she knew that it is what she wanted to do.

"I saw what a wonderful job they did of providing toys, playing, gaining the child's trust, explaining procedures with simple words that the child understood…I knew this was something that I wanted to be a part of," McCarthy says about her work.

The Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital campus is located at 11800 Astoria Boulevard, and includes a 267-bed hospital and two medical plaza buildings for clinical offices and the Memorial Hermann Cancer Center at Southeast. Specialty services at Memorial Hermann Southeast include the recent openings of a state-of-the-art Cancer Center and Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), heart and vascular care, advanced diagnostic imaging, outpatient occupational therapy and rehabilitation and physical therapy.