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A typical hospital visit includes bright lights, beeping alarms and many different people. This can be especially stressful for a child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, the fastest growing developmental disability in the nation.
In response to this growing need, Valley Children’s Day Surgery nurse Shelly Reyes, mother to son Jalen who has ASD, developed the George’s Pass program in 2014 to make a positive impact on the hospital surgical experience for children with ASD and special needs. The George’s Pass program includes processes and resources for staff, parents and patients to create a better, more individualized experience for all involved. Named after Valley Children’s popular George the Giraffe mascot, George’s Pass eases the child’s stay through education, personal tours, hands-on activities and more.
A multidisciplinary team was formed with the goal of spreading the use of George’s Pass beyond Day Surgery to all services located on the Madera campus. The long-term goal is to utilize George’s Pass at all Valley Children’s Healthcare sites, as well as to examine the opportunity to use George’s Pass for patients without ASD, but who might benefit from the more structured environment.
The only dedicated pediatric healthcare network and hospital between Los Angeles and the Bay Area, Valley Children’s treats more than 300 children with ASD each year. George’s Pass addresses these children’s specialized needs from the moment they enter the hospital until they are discharged. George’s Pass is the only program of its kind in the region and expanded hospital-wide in fall 2016, making Valley Children’s an autism-friendly hospital.