'Andrea's Closet' Dedication Ceremony

Friday, August 1, 2008 - 1:30pm

A trip to the ER can be a scary experience – particularly for children. In an effort to reduce anxiety during a health emergency, the University Medical Center Emergency Department will receive an “Andrea’s Closet,” filled with new toys.

A non-profit organization, Andrea's Closet brings young patients comfort and distraction from their illness by allowing them to choose a special gift from a toy-filled closet.

Andrea's Closet is named for Andrea Brunk, who was 8 years old when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in July 2000. Like many children dealing with such a disease, Andrea dreaded her regular visits to a Phoenix-area hospital. During one of Andrea’s many hospital stays, she was exploring the ward and stumbled upon the closet that the staff in the child life department used to store their goodies. "Her face just lit up," said Andrea's mom, Traci Brunk.

“We have found that after a child has undergone a procedure, that a toy of their choosing helps to alleviate some of the anxiety caused by the medical emergency,” says Mary Celeste Stone, certified child life specialist at UMC. “After we have the dedication ceremony, the new Andrea’s Closet will be taken to the Emergency Department,” she says.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS/HEALTH REPORTERS PLEASE NOTE: News media are welcome to cover this story. To make arrangements, please contact Darci Slaten at (520) 626-7217.