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Child Life Program

Promoting a Positive Experience for Children and Families

The hospital can be a scary place for children and their families. The goal of Child Life is to minimize stress and anxiety as much as possible.  Child Life Specialists work with patients and families to promote a positive medical experience.

Child Life Department 423-778-5907

Register for a Pre-surgery Tour 423-778-2154

Donate from Our Amazon Wish List

Child Life Wish List

Who Are Child Life Specialists?

  • Trained professionals with either a bachelor's or master's degree in a field of study related to child development.
  • Specialists who earn national certification through education and experience with the unique needs of hospitalized children and their families.
  • Part of the health care team, working closely with physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, ER technicians, and social workers.
  • Individuals who care for the psychosocial and emotional needs of the hospitalized child.

How Child Life Specialists Help

  • Normalize the environment
    By providing diverting activities like coloring pages, word searches, and board games, Child Life Specialists help make the hospital environment child friendly.
  • Prepare you for procedures
    Child Life Specialists can help you and your child know what to expect during a necessary procedure (IV, stitches, sedation, or surgery) by providing age appropriate teaching.
  • Distract during procedures
    Child Life Specialists can assist patients in coping during uncomfortable procedures through techniques like distraction, breathing exercises, guided imagery, and diversion.
  • Provide emotional support
    During traumatic events, Child Life Specialists can be a calming and reassuring presence for you and your child.
  • Explain what to expect
    If your child's visit to the ER results in admission to the inpatient unit or the intensive care unit, Child Life Specialists can help you understand the sequence of events and what to expect during your hospital stay.

Areas We Serve

  • Emergency Department
  • Surgery
  • Hematology/Oncology Clinic
  • Pediatric Intensive Care
  • Inpatient Units
  • Radiology
  • Outpatient Clinics
  • NICU

Meet Our Team

Maggie Akridge
Children's Outpatient Clinics

Maggie Akridge, MS, CCLS

423-778-6818 email
Lauren Gaddis
Children's Inpatient / PICU

Lauren Gaddis, BS, CCLS

423-778-5907 email
Lois Simpson, BS, CCLS
Children's Outpatient Surgery

Lois Simpson, BS, CCLS

423-778-2154 email
Nicole Tetzlaff, CCLS
Children's Inpatient / PICU

Nicole Tetzlaff, CCLS

423-778-6814 email
Sydney Smith, BS, CCLS
Children's Emergency Department

Sydney Smith, BS, CCLS


When to Call a Child Life Specialist

  • Child needs preparation for an invasive procedure.
  • Child is having difficulty coping with a necessary procedure, i.e., crying, fighting or hiding.
  • Child exhibits oppositional behavior, refusing to cooperate without anger or hostility.
  • Child or siblings express specific fears to staff, needing follow up.
  • Child is perceived by staff as withdrawn.
  • Child is having difficulty taking meds.
  • Child is admitted having recently experienced traumatic loss or has a chronic illness (developmental delay)
  • Child is newly diagnosed with chronic illness.
  • Child is admitted for injuries resulting from a traumatic accident, i.e., MVA, fire, etc.
  • Child has injuries or a diagnosis that has resulted from suspected child abuse.

Christmas in July Toy Drive

Help improve a child’s hospital stay by donating toys, games, clothing, and more. Check out our Wish List for gift ideas and drop off items in the donation bin - located outside the Children's Emergency Room entrance - anytime during July! Contact Child Life at 423-778-6814 or [email protected] for questions related to donations.