As the only Level-1 trauma center in the city, the pediatric emergency unit within the Emergency Department sees families in a time of real crisis. With so much happening to a young patient, it became really apparent that there needed to be someone advocating for our youngest patients.

The Child Life Specialist is a relatively new position for ZSFG. Christine Sowar has been on staff for just under a year now and is on-call to meet families as soon as they arrive. From the ambulance bay to the treatment rooms, Christine is on hand to give patients and their families some sense of control. Explaining what is about to happen and providing a distraction, Christine’s tools look different than most of her colleagues in the ED – doctor toys, books, and art supplies. And bubbles.

“Bubbles save lives”.

Seeing the trauma that happens in our city, and the effect it has on children, Christine is dedicated to ensuring that all patients feel heard and supported, and families feel included in their child’s care. She sees her work as setting everyone up for success – on their next medical visit, with their next illness or injury, and building trust in the community.

During the COVID-19 crisis, Christine’s role has pivoted to support her staff as they treat pediatric patients in the ED. This has included creating “self-portrait” name badges so young patients know what their doctors and nurses look like.