Let's Pretend Hospital (LPH) is a program designed for first graders to help reduce the fear and anxiety they may experience if they must be hospitalized or visit the emergency room.
The success of Let's Pretend Hospital is the combined efforts of Huntsville Hospital Department of Volunteer Services, Nursing faculty, students, staff and many volunteers that participate year after year. We're happy to say that LPH spans generations. Nursing students who visited as first graders are now performing skits. Teachers are returning who visited the hospital as first graders and volunteers are still returning who have seen both their children and grandchildren attend.
The program began in 1985 and has evolved into a six day event which serves approximately 3000 students in 60 public, private and home schools in Madison County. The event is held in March, usually just before spring break. Huntsville Hospital (HH) Department of Volunteer Services begins in the fall to coordinate registration and scheduling of the local schools. Vocabulary and resource lists are provided to each class in preparation for the visit. College of Nursing faculty and students write and coordinate these study guides with Child Life Coordinators and also prepare the skits that are performed in each hospital room. North Alabama area hospitals and campuses have observed this program and adopted many of the processes to create their own pretend hospital.
The "Pretend Hospital" Rooms
- Miss Molly (Teaching puppet)
- Emergency Room
- Operating Room
- X-ray and Laboratory
- Patient Room
- Safety Room
Nursing Juniors and Seniors perform skits as Doctors, Nurses and Technicians to provide information and demonstrations to the children. It is delightful to see the interaction between the nursing students and the children. A child is selected to be the patient for each room. Volunteers, faculty and nursing students manage the progression of each class. As many as six classes may move through the hospital at one time making coordination essential.
College of Nursing Commitment
A faculty committee is appointed by the Dean to manage LPH in coordination with the Director of HH Department of Volunteer Services. The committee consists of two committee chairs and two assistants. This effort is considered part of the faculty members community service and does not reduce their regular class load.
Senior students enrolled in Community Health Nursing receive 27 clinical hours credit for their participation in LPH. These students are required to participate in staffing the hospital a minimum of 16 hours and serve on student committees for planning and preparation of the hospital. The student committees are steering, security, public relations, secretarial, and evaluation.
Junior students enrolled in Nursing Care of Adults with Alterations in Health 1 receive eight hours clinical credit for eight hours work in LPH. Nursing students are responsible for skits, set-up and breakdown, security and escort for first graders, posters and signs for doors and rooms, lunch service, and other duties as they arise.
The College considers this event a valuable community service. Nursing provides a small budget for lunches for students and volunteers for three days, miscellaneous poster and office supplies, Xerox copies and items for goodie bags for every child. UAH University Relations provides a wonderful coloring book about LPH that features Charger Blue, the UAH mascot. Students and faculty are very resourceful in obtaining donations from area businesses, bookstores and eateries. A local company also donates the use of portable radios that are invaluable in managing the buses and classes arriving and leaving the building.
The entire classroom area of the College is vacated for a minimum of eight working days. All classes during that period
are relocated to other classrooms across the campus. All classroom furnishings are also moved out.
Other areas of UAH become involved. University Relations schedules media coverage and picture taking. Campus Police enforce traffic control and assist to assure that all busses and students are safe while visiting the campus. Facilities and grounds crews assist with moving furniture for the event.
Huntsville Hospital Commitment
The HH Department of Volunteer Services directs the entire event and other organizations such as American Red Cross, Huntsville Hospital Auxiliary and Huntsville Hospital Angels for Children provide volunteer services. HH sends information to the area schools, receives registrations and schedules the classes for their visit. HH provides all hospital equipment such as hospital beds, x-ray machine, microscope, hospital gowns, playroom tables and toys, and various items necessary to make each room look realistic. The Hospital volunteers also provide morning refreshments for all LPH workers and three days of lunches. The volunteers assemble goodie bags for each child that includes miscellaneous items such as band-aids, hospital caps, masks and scuffs.