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Kathryn Ridout, MD, PhD, a psychiatric resident at Hasbro Children’s hospital, had a job to do. Every morning on her rounds she would wake up patients and assess their medical needs for the day. One such patient was a young boy who, due to a chronic health condition, had been at the hospital for an extended amount of time. Every morning, Ridout would walk to this young patient’s room and wake him up. As he wiped the sleep from his eyes and realized who was there, he would immediately ask Ridout when she would play video games with him again.
Like most young patients staying in a hospital for an extended time, this boy was frequently bored. Ridout and his other doctors worked to discover the things he enjoyed.
At the top of the list: playing video games. A group at Hasbro Children’s Hospital donated a video game system with games. Of course, games are always more fun when you play with someone else.
Not wanting to disappoint her young friend, Ridout would work her typical shift of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and then join the boy for dinner and gaming. This made the patient so happy that Ridout and another colleague decided to make a ritual of it. They split the week between themselves to make sure that he had a gaming buddy every night. Some favorite games were Mario Kart and Mario Party.
“I, of course, was always made to be the Princess Peach,” says Ridout.
When he was finally ready to be discharged, the staff ordered some of his favorite foods to celebrate. A smorgasbord of cupcakes and chicken fingers was served and, as the party’s entertainment, a final round of video games.
Ridout says that for young patients, “being in the hospital has to be the absolute worst thing in the world. Kids aren’t supposed to get sick. So, the mentality going in is that, yes, you are here to take care of their medical needs so you can send them home as soon as possible, but, there is also an understanding that you have to focus on their psychological well-being so that their experience is something close to enjoyable.”
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