Community Finds Ways to Safely Cheer Up Kids at Children's Hospital

Creative pick-me-ups in age of COVID-19 visitor restrictions spread joy at CHKD

Norfolk, Va, Dec. 17, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- At children’s hospitals across the country, the coronavirus pandemic has meant kids have fewer visitors at their bedside.

While parents can visit, many kids in the hospital can’t see their brothers and sisters, their friends, their next-door neighbors during inpatient stays. That can make for a long day of recuperating.

At Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Va., well-wishers and child life specialists found ways to cheer up children in a safe way, with the creative use of firetruck ladders, glass doors, and 8th floor windows. As the year comes to a close, we're sharing the joy on children's faces.

Firefighters equipped to scale heights.

Four-year-old Nolan Turner’s love of firetrucks comes to him naturally. After all, his father, Levin Turner, is a captain with the Portsmouth Fire Department.

So when Nolan was in the hospital in November after being diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma, buddies from two different fire stations in Norfolk and Portsmouth came to the rescue.

They arrived with their engines roaring as CHKD security officials cleared the way in the area underneath Nolan’s 5th floor window. They climbed aboard ladders with signs that said, “Keep Fighting!” and “Small steps every day!” When the ladders reached the fifth floor, one of the firefighters called Nolan on the phone:

“Hey, Nolan, are you near the window?”

Nolan appeared in the window, smiled from ear to ear, and waved excitedly to his firefighter friends.

“I have five kids and he’s the one who wants to be a firefighter, that’s his thing. It was so meaningful in so many ways,” Nolan’s dad, Levin Turner, told Channel 13 News reporter Adriana DeAlba . “There’s not a whole lot in this process that has brought the joy back to Nolan, this is about it. This has been a very high point for us. So, it was really appreciated."

Art and friendship through the glass brightly.

The playroom at CHKD looked a little lonely in the first weeks and months of the pandemic, as child life specialists had to limit the number of children playing because of the pandemic.

But children still get sick, and they still need a distraction from their illness, and someone their own age to play with.  As the weeks progressed, child life specialists found ways to get children together.

Child life specialist Krissy Finch, for instance, put 3-year-old Liliana Dietrich and 4-year-old Eli Feliciano on either side of sliding glass doors in the chemotherapy unit where each was having hours-long treatment. She gave them paint and brushes.

Voila, not only did art appear, but the two children were able to connect in a safe manner.

“It was so awesome to see her having some fun in the clinic, and enjoy being a kid for a little bit,” said Liliana’s mother, Amanda Dietrich.

Window washers don superhero costumes to cheer up patients on high.

It’s not every day that CHKD patients see superheroes right outside their windows.

Especially when they’re on the 8th floor.

One-year-old Jersiah Washington did, though, when Spiderman swooped down in June to wave to him from outside the boy’s window at CHKD. Spiderman was swinging down from ropes attached to the rooftop because he is also one of many window cleaners from Valcourt Building Services who regularly don superhero costumes to entertain the children as the employees clean and squeegee the windows of the patients’ rooms.

The visit by superheroes from behind a thick pane of glass was an unexpected treat, with just the right amount of social distancing.

Jersiah’s mother, Sha’Qualia Nowell, who lives in Virginia Beach, enjoyed the visit, too. “It’s a great experience for the kids.”



Four-year-old cancer patient Nolan Turner had a visit from Norfolk and Portsmouth firefighters who used fire truck ladders to greet him through his 5th floor window at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters in Norfolk.
Photo: Ken Mountain Four-year-old Eli Feliciano and 3-year-old Liliana Dietrich paint safely together in a chemotherapy infusion center at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters in Norfolk, Va.
Photo courtesy: CHKD