Long-term hospital stays are agonizing for anyone, with children undoubtedly suffering the most. Stress, anxiety and loneliness prolong the healing process and may cause lifelong traumas that prevent proper development. When a child is trapped in a hospital room, sometimes alone for long periods of time, the emotional distress can exacerbate chronic conditions. Alone and in pain, facing hours of sterile and frightening environments, a child can wonder if they are still loved.
Children are in hospitals for multiple reasons. Some have acute illness/injury; others have chronic conditions that require repeated hospitalization; and some suffer from abuse or neglect at the hands of others.
Extent of the Need
Just one children’s hospital in Portland, Oregon has 150 beds. Approximately 20 children are admitted to Doernbecher Children’s hospital each day. While the average length of a hospital stay in the United States is 5.5 days, children with chronic conditions may stay weeks or even months in hospital isolation. These long stays are documented to cause anxiety and depression. Children with chronic conditions are up to 2.8 times as likely to develop psychiatric disorders as their healthy peers, and mental trauma is well documented to lengthen or worsen the symptoms of chronic illness.
“The phenomenal growth in the number of children with diagnoses of chronic health conditions during the past two decades indicates the importance of developing quality measures for these populations.”
– James M. Perrin, MD, FAAP, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics
How Billo Box Helps Meet the Need
To help alleviate the feelings of loneliness and anxiety in children facing long-term hospital stays, we have created Billo Box. We aim to encourage positive thinking and create positive outcomes with care boxes that supply unique and engaging products chosen specifically for children facing uphill battles in healing.
Each care box includes 4-6 items; stuffed animals, toys, activities, and creative supplies. These are chosen specifically for the gender and age of the child and can be enjoyed both during private, quiet times of healing as well as with friends and family. Each box is designed to provide a sense of love and to encourage healthy play and engagement, allowing every child to experience childhood even from the confines of their hospital bed. Feeling loved, supported and cared for can go a long way toward reducing the effects of anxiety and depression that can stunt the recovery process.
According to research by Princeton University, engaging in fun and fulfilling play time with family and friends was the single most significant factor to improving the mental well-being of a child with chronic illness. At Billo Box, we believe that making a child smile is the best road towards healing.
Over the past two decades, children being diagnosed with chronic conditions has continued to increase- growing the need for inpatient pediatric care. In the medical community, it is well known that there is a small window of time for many children where a positive mentality may be crucial in their recovery. Preventing depression and anxiety is much easier and more effective than trying to fight established traumas.
“There is consensus in the medical community that the evaluation of Quality of Life is of great importance for determining treatment strategy and effective patient-care.”
– Bryn D. Webb, MD, American Board of Pediatrics
Conditions and circumstances might change at any time, day or night. Patients are transferred, discharged or moved at a moment’s notice. A child might be afraid today, lonely today, in pain today, feeling hopeless today- We believe that it is never too soon to help. A stuffed animal to hold through a bad night or a game to play in bed with family on a long day might make a world of difference for a child, but the opportunity to provide it can be gone in an instant.
The Billo Box Approach
No other organization in the region is doing what Billo Box does. Providing practical, useful tools for comfort and healing is imperative in childhood recovery, and without Billo Box, the entire burden falls on overburdened families. Our boxes are free for children, families and hospitals, allowing us to provide support where resources may be limited. By providing age and gender specific items, we ensure that each child will benefit entirely from the box that they were given. Our products and presentation are high quality and professionally curated to elicit the most joy from each individual child. All items are guaranteed new and safe for the age range that the box is designed for. We even choose items that children with limited motor skills, mental disabilities or other restrictions can love and enjoy.
Our Business Model
Our founders come with a deep, first-hand understanding of childhood medical treatment, as well as how to encourage feelings of support and comfort in hospital settings. Billo Box is being guided by the Center for Nonprofit Law, seasoned consultants, and a highly qualified board of directors who include early childhood development specialists, medical facility executive directors, local business owners and stay-at-home parents. Already, Billo Box has established connections in the Portland area with toy stores and manufacturers, and established a partnership with Oregon Health & Science University.
Billo Box doesn’t just provide care boxes. Our drive is to provide a positive experience to sick or injured children- giving a smile that can help a child heal. Modern consumers can order a box filled with everything from makeup to dog treats- It’s time for a box that gives back.
Executive Director, Hailey Mathias, understands what a true hospital stay is like, and how gifts of generosity and kindness can have a profound and long-lasting impact. When she was only 10 years old, one of her closest friends was diagnosed with Leukemia. She watched as a perfectly functioning, outgoing child had their life flipped upside down almost overnight. She would bring him presents to the hospital and later at home while he was going through his extremely strenuous treatments and later recovery. His parents would always tell Hailey and her parents what a difference those small visits made in his recovery, and how he cherished the items he was gifted.
This project could not have any more meaning for Laura, the president of Billo Box. At the age of 6, this personal experience for her started with 18 hospital stays the first year alone and lasted through her junior year in high school. Her chronic illness changed the lives of her and her family in 1 seemingly totally normal day. Who would have known that one small symptom would have led to what they faced for the next 11 years. She still remembers the day the nurses at Good Samaritan Hospital gave her a baby beans doll that would become one of the most special gifts she would receive in her lifetime.
We work to inspire joyful experiences in children facing illness, injury, misfortune and abuse.
– The Billo Box Team
You Can Help
Every child should feel the joys of childhood- even from a hospital room. Excitement, engagement and love are only a box away! We need your help. Connect with us today to give a little joy to a child in pain.