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Child Life Month feature: Geisinger Child Life Program Manager Becky Drumheller

Today we wrap up our tribute to Child Life Month. The Child Life program started in 1981 at Geisinger and marks its 40th anniversary in 2021. The Child Life team is lead by Program Manager Becky (Sears) Drumheller, who joined the team in 1985. Today the Child Life staff has 12 members including Becky and the need for their services continue to grow in pediatrics and at Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital. Today we learn more about Becky Drumheller.

Hometown: Danville

College: Wheelock College (in Boston Mass.)

Family: “My husband Jay is a nurse for Muncy School District, who also enjoys coaching football there.  Jay and I will celebrate our 30th anniversary in July!  We love spending time with our daughters; Marlee, 27, a physician’s assistant with an orthopedic group in Ithaca, N.Y. and Abby, 23, who is a registered occupational therapist, looking for her first professional position.

Favorite food: pizza & ice cream

Favorite children’s book: Alexander & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Favorite movie: White Christmas

Favorite game: “On my phone: Mahjong, Pixel Art. With others: puzzles, board games, Can Jam. (I’m terrible – but like it).”

When you aren’t working, how do you like to spend your time?
“Watching movies, time with friends and family exploring new places or hanging out at a campfire.”

Special talent or stupid human trick you may possess?
“Making ice cream disappear.”

What is the last text you sent?
“Sounds yummy!”

What made you want to be involved with the Child Life Department?
“The opportunity to work with children of all ages, helping them discover their own resiliency and abilities as they navigate various aspects of illness/injury/treatments in various medical settings.”

What is your favorite part of what you do?
“Watching a child learn and master a new skill and witnessing their sense of accomplishment like effectively coping through a procedure, successfully taking medicine, participating in their own care.”

Tell me something touching for you personally while performing your job?
“It’s true… Teamwork makes the dream work. We are fortunate to have amazing staff with whom we work every day! The pediatric cystic fibrosis team with whom I work, wanted to improve clinic visits for a five-year-old with autism. Past visits for this child were traumatic…full of tears, fears and holding him down. Not this past visit! I introduced a toy doctor kit and doll for the child to participate in medical play, allowing him to play through the events of clinic with the doll he named ‘stuffy.’ His doctor not only played along with the toy doctors kit, but incorporated the use of real medical equipment, actively engaging the child. I watched as the child stood listening to the doctor’s lungs with a toy stethoscope, while the doctor knelt facing the patient listening to his lungs with a real stethoscope. The memory of this image will forever make me smile. I have been privileged to work with doctors, nurses, therapists, and social workers who understand when children are anxious — invest time in educating them – identify age-appropriate coping strategies and are flexible in their treatment of patients & families. “

How do donations Children’s Miracle Network at Geisinger help you to perform your job? 

“From procedure rooms to playrooms, donations to CMN support all aspects of child life programming. From medical play kits and stress balls to wooden toy replicas of CT scanners and toy ambulances. From caring for real aquariums to infant soother aquariums/crib toys. From monthly snack delivered room to room to the annual JWCH birthday meal. From coloring books that prepare children for surgery, to video gaming systems, wireless headphones and music to help distract from pain. From spinning light toys to special straws designed to teach pill swallowing, donations to CMN help me do my job to the best of my ability and most importantly, help children adjust to the hospital, clinic, injuries, and illness to the best of their abilities. THANK YOU!!”