This week’s Homegrown Hero is Amy Schiano, Recreation Therapist at Children’s Specialized Hospital. This past week we caught up with her to know more about her story, and what she has experienced since the pandemic started. We thank Amy for all her efforts and for inspiring our club with her acts.
Tell me about your career and what inspires you every day?
I am a Recreation Therapist primarily working with infants and children with complex medical needs in a long-term care facility. I also work part-time at another hospital on the inpatient behavioral health unit for adults. My inspiration is of course the residents and patients I see daily. The children I am fortunate to be with each day are resilient even though they are going through so much already, and their lives have changed so much because of this pandemic. However, they smile and they laugh and that’s why I love what I do.
How much have your job duties changed since the pandemic started?
Since the pandemic started, my role has become more essential to our patients. Unfortunately, many healthcare facilities within the state restricted visitors which meant we had to develop ways on how our patients and residents can connect with their loved ones whether it was through video calls or socially-distanced visits. My current daily routine includes doing video calls with loved ones as well as facilitating virtual learning sessions with schools since the residents are not allowed to leave the facility. Since group programs are currently on hold, I will see residents individually and will play a game or toys with them, read a book, or play music so that they continue to receive stimulation and a distraction from any discomfort or pain they may be experiencing. Majority of the pediatric residents I treat have very complex medical needs so infection control is very important throughout this time. Working with adults on the behavioral health unit, I have seen firsthand on how this pandemic greatly affected our mental health population. My roles changed in that perspective as more patients were coming to us asking about coping skills or resources to keep themselves healthy and not have this pandemic affect their lives more negatively than it already has.
What’s the biggest lesson/s you’ve learned during this time period?
I have learned that it is very important to take care of yourself. As a recreation therapist, it is one of our many opportunities to help anyone find what they love to do or find ways to continue to do what they love without any limitations. I learned that I really need to practice what I preach to my residents or patients because I did not take self-care seriously until this pandemic started. I now remind myself to take an hour each day to do something I love such as reading, jigsaw puzzles, listening to music, and walking. I learned how to not experience compassion fatigue as this pandemic has mentally and physically exhausted us all whether you are an essential worker or not. Always remember, be kind to one another and to stay positive!