More Fun, Less Fear

Promotes Healing

Child Life Specialists at Virtua Voorhees and Virtua Memorial are specially trained to ease the fear and anxiety pediatric patients often have when they are hospitalized or facing the illness of a loved one.

Using a variety of tools and techniques, these members of the medical team help children cope and provide emotional support for patients and their families. Their work promotes the healing process and can create a sense of normalcy for hospitalized children.

Virtua Foundation proudly partners with many donors who support child life programs at Virtua and help to provide specialists with resources they need to help children heal.

How Gifts Make a Difference:

  • Toys, books, and arts and crafts help bring a sense of normalcy to children who are hospitalized on their birthdays or on holidays.
  • iPads, tablets and other video game systems with therapeutic programs provide distractions during stressful times.
  • Play rooms, teen lounges, family spaces and pediatric gardens give patients and their loved ones the opportunity to relax away from the hospital room and bring a welcomed and age-appropriate change of scenery.
  • Child Life Tool Kits include dolls, pictures and instruments that help explain medical procedures to children.
  • Telemedicine robots allow specialists at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to examine patients and consult with physicians at Virtua Memorial so families don’t have to move to a different facility.

Stella's Story

Child Life at Virtua turned what could have been a terrifying experience for the Sanderson family into a hospital stay that has changed their lives for the better

Five-year-old Stella Sanderson has a doll that is a little more special than all the rest in her collection.

Once wrapped in bandages and connected to tubes and a pulse-oximetry monitor, the medical play doll was given to her by a child life specialist at Virtua Voorhees to help explain a procedure Stella required while battling pneumonia last fall.

“There were so many things happening to her that she had no control over,” said Stella’s mom, Anastasia. “Child life helped her process all the things that were happening to her medically.”

Just a few weeks into kindergarten, Stella became very ill and was admitted to the Marvin Samson Foundation Pediatrics & Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Virtua Voorhees. As her chest filled with fluid, doctors told her family she would need a chest tube.

“My husband and I were beside ourselves and wondering how we were going to make it through. We knew medically she would get the best care ever, but we didn’t know what to do about everything else,” said Anastasia. “That’s when Beth walked in the room.”

Beth Van Buskirk, a certified child life specialist at Virtua Voorhees, provides psychological and emotional support to children through distraction techniques and activities such as play therapy. Stella and Beth formed a special bond from day one, when Beth said two magic words—glitter paint.

“She was so scared and in so much pain, but she was enjoying what she was doing and started to feel a little better,” said Anastasia.

Anastasia and her husband Scott, along with their younger daughter Scarlett, spent more than two weeks at Virtua Voorhees while Stella got better. The child life program helped them get through it.

“What could have been so traumatic and horrible for our family on a zillion levels, was such a positive experience for all of us,” Anastasia said. Today, Stella is healthy and doing well. She would like to be an artist and doctor when she grows up.

Pediatric Family Zone at Virtua Voorhees

Hospitalization can be stressful for families. Creating a sense of normalcy with opportunities for families to be together away from the bedside is important to the healing process.

Now, with a $35,000 gift from Virtua Foundation Community Partner Carz N’ Toyz, the lounge in the Marvin Samson Pediatrics and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Virtua Voorhees will be transformed into a Pediatric Family Zone.

“We are very excited because it will be a wonderful space for families who stay with us during what can be difficult times. It will be a fun, relaxed area that supports the needs of our families in a number of ways,” said Beth Van Buskirk, child life specialist at Virtua Voorhees.

The space, now just an ordinary waiting room, soon will be filled with child-sized furniture, interactive and therapeutic gaming systems, books and games. A computer area will assist with tutoring services and provide families with a space to work from the hospital. Families will also have a dining area where they can share meals and take part in special, pediatric events.


303 Lippincott Drive, 4th Floor
Marlton, NJ 08053
t: 856-355-0830 | f: 856-355-0831



Virtua Health Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization committed to enhancing Virtua's mission through philanthropy.


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