CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – Spending the night in a strange bed, with wires connected to your head, while cameras record your every move may not be the most relaxing experience, but a necessary part of conducting an accurate sleep study to help a doctor diagnose a possible sleep disorder.
Now, imagine that scenario through the eyes of a young child. That’s what sleep technician Alyssa Bakner did earlier this summer when the Chambersburg Hospital Sleep Center started offering pediatric sleep studies to children ages four and older.
The diagnostic test requires the child to spend the night in the sleep center. While staff members have worked hard behind the scenes to make the rooms more comfortable and kid-friendly, the experience can still be a little intimidating for a young patient.
“I know that it can be a lot for a little kid to take in,” Bakner explained. “I wanted to do something fun that could be an ice-breaker and make the children feel more at home.”
Bakner and her coworkers brainstormed ways to offer the pediatric patients a more comforting experience, and decided to combine her love of tie-dye with her love for young patients.
Bakner now hand-creates tie-dyed pillow cases, which she gives to each pediatric patient. When they arrive for their sleep study, they can choose from dozens of the brightly colored hand-made items, all a little different. They can use the pillow case while they are undergoing the study, and then take it home as a souvenir of the experience.
Bakner has dedicated countless hours of her personal time to creating the pillowcases, which take several steps over the course of a few days to get just right.
She says the time spent on the crafts instantly pays off when she sees the delight on her patients faces.
“When they see them, they light right up! It’s like we become friends and share a connection,” she said. “They feel more comfortable and open up to me. We end up sharing stories and talking, and they forget they are getting a medical test done.”
Pediatric patients must have a referral to get a sleep study performed. For more information on the services provided by the Chambersburg Hospital Sleep Center, please visit SummitHealth.org/sleep or call (717) 267-7162.