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Easing Their Fears: Book by Shriners Hospital staff helps kids facing surgery


Surgery can be a frightening prospect at any age. For kids, the fear can be overwhelming. 

Bill Munley, Administrator of Shriners Hospitals for Children – Greenville, knows that all too well. He and his team focus on improving the experiences of their young patients. Often that looks like coloring with a child or challenging one to a game of air hockey, while their physical needs are met as well. 

Munley said one patient’s mother described the location as “a playground that happens to have a hospital in it” – and that’s exactly the atmosphere staff members want. 

When little ones are facing surgery, their fears can loom large. Now, a new book, “Bailey Bear Gets Her Wish,” can help children process those fears and questions as they get ready for their medical procedures. 

“The purpose was to provide a warm, upbeat story for our surgery patients, help calm their fears and anxiety about what they are going to experience,” Munley said. “I wanted to do something on a child’s level to help alleviate those fears. Little did I know at that time that we would be publishing a book.”

Munley got the idea for Bailey and her animal friends while on a trip to Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. The park’s centerpiece is a towering Tree of Life covered in carvings of animals. 

“That’s where I got the concept of a great tree where all the animals meet,” Munley said. 

From that starting point, the story was shaped by Munley and others at the hospital, including the child life team. The animals have different diagnoses that are among the more than 85 orthopedic and neuromuscular conditions treated by Shriners Hospitals. 

“My goal is to give every age-appropriate child who is going to have this surgery a copy of the book so it does alleviate their fear when they are coming to the hospital,” Munley said. “The more these books can be read by parents to children or children read it themselves, the better the experience is going to be from beginning to end.”

“Bailey Bear Gets Her Wish” is available for $10 per copy at hospital events, including the Turkey Trot and Roll scheduled for Nov. 13 at Trailblazer Park, or by contacting Trana Pittam at tpittam@shrinenet.org. You can also sponsor a book for a child facing surgery. For details about the Turkey Trot, visit SCTrotandRoll.org.