photo of two children; child on the left playing with teddy bear

The MedStar Georgetown University Hospital Child Life Program provides therapeutic play and recreational activities to support children and families as they cope with illness, hospitalization, and treatment. We are dedicated to helping every child who walks through our doors understand why they are in the hospital, and we hope they walk away a little less scared.

Contact a Child Life Specialists

If you have any questions please call 202-444-3037 to contact MedStar Georgetown Child Life. Contact information for a specific Child Life Specialist can be found in our Meet the Team section below. 

Support our Child Life Programs

Click here to learn about the many different opportunities for you to support help the Child Life Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.


What Is a Child Life Specialist?

Certified Child Life Specialists help to reduce the stress and anxiety that many children experience in hospital and healthcare settings. A Certified Child Life Specialist is a professional who is specially trained to help children and their families understand and manage challenging life events and stressful healthcare experiences. They are skilled in providing developmental, educational, and therapeutic interventions for children and their families under stress.

young patient with a MedStar Georgetown Child Life SpecialistTogether, with your family and your health care team, the role of the Certified Child Life Specialist is to:

  • Use developmentally appropriate language and resources to help a child understand his/her illness
  • Prepare a child for upcoming health care experiences
  • Encourage effective coping skills
  • Support a child during procedures using medical play and distraction
  • Provide the family with opportunities to express feelings about the healthcare experience
  • Provide pediatric patients with the opportunity for developmentally appropriate play and activities
  • Help pediatric patients feel connected to school through our Hospital School Program
  • Support siblings in understanding a brother or sister’s illness
  • Provide support during bereavement
  • Advocate for pediatric patients and their families

Our Child Life Specialist Team

Kathleen Wallace, CCLS
Child Life Coordinator
General Pediatrics, Hematolgy/Oncology
Pediatric Procedural Sedation
Email: [email protected]

Lauren Furtner, CCLS
Small Bowel Transplant
Hope for Henry Programming
Email: [email protected]

Jessica Tyndall, CCLS
Liver Transplant
Email: [email protected]

Christine Anninos
Hospital School Program
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 202-444-0173

Preparing Your Child for Hospitalization at MedStar Georgetown

There are ways that you, as parents, can prepare your child for a hospital stay.young child playing with a teddy bear. she is playing doctor and the teddy bear is the patient

  • Honesty is the best policy! Talk to your child about their upcoming hospital visit a few days before their procedure/admission. Being honest with your child is very important as well as answering any questions that may be concerning them.
  • Have your child help pack a bag for the hospital. Encourage them to bring a few favorite toys, and books.
  • Parents have open visiting hours and will be given identification bracelets to wear during your stay. Siblings are always welcome to visit but cannot stay overnight.
  • If your child is coming to the hospital for surgery you might want to show them this video which can help prepare them for surgery and start the conversation of what the hospital experience will be like for them! OPERATION DAY with BUD E BEAR from on Vimeo.
  • Read some books about going to the hospital. Here are some options:
    • Flip and Find Doctors by Samantha Meredith
    • Franklin Goes to the Hospital by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark
    • The Berenstain Bears Hospital Friends by Mike Berenstain
    • Curious George Goes to the Hospital by Margret and H.A. Rey

What to bring to the hospital?

Familiar objects from home may be comforting for children when coming into a new environment.

  • A favorite toy or stuffed animal
  • A special pillow or blanket, even bed sheets.
  • Comfortable pajamas and slippers- the hospital provides gowns for medical procedures and surgery, but it is nice for your child to have their "own" clothes for other times during your stay.
  • Magazines, books or other reading material.
  • An interactive television through the Get Well Network is provided in every patient room. You will have access to the internet, movies, games and education. A portable Nintendo Wii can be provided.
  • There is a washer/dryer, fridge, and microwave available for pediatric families in the family lounge

Wireless is available for our patients and families; bring your laptop and other electronic devices from home.

Hospital School Program

When a child is hospitalized, one of their biggest concerns may be the fear of falling behind in school. Participating in school activities allows students to keep up with their studies, stay in touch with their peers and focus on something other than their hospitalization. School-related tasks are familiar for most children, and they serve to normalize and humanize an often intimidating, painful and foreign experience.

children participating in hospital school program at MedStar GeorgetownMedStar Georgetown University Hospital provides a certified teacher to work with hospitalized children while inpatient as well as provide advocacy for students and parents navigating the school systems upon discharge.

The Hospital School Program is generously grant funded by the Albert L. Tucker and Elizabeth T. Tucker Foundation. If you have any questions or are a parent of a chronic patient with school questions, please contact Christine Anninos, Child Life Education Specialist, [email protected].

Studio G Artist-in-Residence Program

Founded in 1993, Studio G brings a full range of professional artists—poets, musicians, visual artists, storytellers—to provide a full palette of expressive activities to children hospitalized at MedStar Georgetown. Children unable to join in the group activities may be visited in their rooms.

Studio G logoStudio G artists receive formal instruction in child development, the special needs and concerns of children who are hospitalized, safety issues, communication skills, and the importance of parents, other family members, and friends. This intense training is followed by a supervised internship under the direction of child development professionals and ongoing educational opportunities and support. Because of the program's unique training and internship components, Studio G has captured national and international recognition as a model program.

For more information about Studio G, including current artists/bios, please contact Judy Rollins, Studio G Coordinator, [email protected] or 202-944-3504.