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Published: March 30, 2012
From The Orange County Register
Posted by Theresa Cisneros
ORANGE, CA. - Hundreds of patients were treated to music, magic and merriment on Monday morning, as part of a three-hour Día del Niño (Day of the Child) celebration held on the CHOC Children’s campus.
Patients – some wearing face masks, casts or slings – stared intently at entertainment provided by a clown, other CHOC patients, and a Latin American cartoon character named El Chichicuilote.
The action unfolded in the lobby of the CHOC Clinics at Orange, a busy facility near the hospital that receives 55,000 visits annually, as families waited to be seen by clinic staff during their standing appointments.
Monday’s event was held in honor of Día del Niño, Mexico’s April 30 observation of international Children’s Day.
Maria Ramirez of Anaheim and her sons Angel Diaz, 8, and Daniel Diaz, 3, were among those who watched the show.
“I think that it’s great,” said Ramirez, 36, who recalled celebrating Día del Niño in Guanajuato, Mexico as a child. “Children are not something that we should forget. They are our future.”
The event was organized by Jaime Serna, a CHOC phlebotomist who uses magic tricks, toys and a red clown nose to calm his patients’ fear of needles.
Serna, who has been with the hospital for four years, worked as a children’s entertainer for 14 years before starting at CHOC. After treating a few frightened patients, he began using humor to soothe their nerves and gain their trust.
“I want them to come and see a friend, not a phlebotomist,” said Serna, of Brea, who also performed magic tricks with the assistance of CHOC patients Monday morning.
Serna, originally of Mexico City, said he created Monday’s event with the same intent: to make laughter part of the healing process.
“We wanted to make sure that all the kids were happy in the lobby and not afraid when they went into their rooms,” said Serna, 44. “We wanted them to see that we are here to help.”
Monday’s event was among more than a dozen gatherings that will be held in Orange County marking Día del Niño.