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La Rabida Children's Hospital

Healthcare - Health Services
250 - 500 employees  |  
La Rabida's family-focused care dates back to its founding when, as a fresh air sanitarium for sick children, a group of women volunteers sought to provide relief for the "tired and weary mothers" of the inner-city.

During the Chicago World's Fair Columbian Exposition in 1893, a replica of the La Rabida monastery in Spain (from where Columbus embarked on his voyage to the new world) was built in Jackson Park and housed artifacts of Columbus' historic voyage. After the fair, in 1895, the Spanish Consulate donated the building to the City of Chicago to be used as a fresh air sanitarium for sick children. That year, the sanitarium was run by a group of volunteer women, who, by 1896, officially took over the operation and upkeep of the building and the activities within. That group, the Women's Board of La Rabida, still exists today.

Throughout the 1920's La Rabida continued its work and eventually grew to become a hospital that cares for children with rheumatic fever. In the 1950's and 60's, the hospital gained international recognition for research which led to the eradication of the disease. It was during this period that the hospital made a formal commitment to treat the chronic illnesses of childhood.

Today, the hospital still cares for children with chronic illnesses, in addition to victims of child abuse. It has grown to be a respected leader and innovator in the teaching and research of pediatric chronic illnesses and in exploring issues of pediatric health care.
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Apri1 16, 2001

La Rabida's Short Term Trauma Treatment Program Helps Children and Families of Sexual Abuse Cope and Build a Life for the Future
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

CHICAGO - Victims of sexual abuse have a great need for counseling. Those children who have been sexually abused are more likely to develop a variety of emotional and behavioral disorders. However, it has been found that fewer than 5 percent of children identified as having been sexually abused in Cook County received any type of counseling services in the year following the discovery of the abuse (Conte, 1983).

With that in mind, La Rabida Children's Hospital pioneered a program in order to assist victims and help combat the symptoms that accompany sexual abuse. Dr. Neil Hochstadt, Ph.D., Director of the Behavioral Sciences Department, spearheaded the Short Term Trauma Treatment Program, a 10-session program that focuses on counseling the child and his or her family and doing this as close to the point of disclosing of the abuse as possible.

"The Short Term Trauma Treatment Program has a variety of different goals," stated Hochstadt. "We hope that this program reduces the symptoms of the trauma, hones in on the nature of the abuse, and, by the end, permits the child to let go of the abuse."

Dr. Brad Stolbach, Ph.D., is the supervisor of the child abuse and neglect team. In addition to reducing the symptoms of trauma, Stolbach concludes that this program also focuses on helping the child and family cope with the abuse and accept it as a part of their life history.

"One of the main goals of this program is to help the child and family put the experience in the past," stated Stolbach. "We don't want them to be "stuck" in the experience and allow it to control how they respond in the present or in the future.

We want to show them how to move on and accept that it was just a part of their life history. We do not want the child or the parent to structure their life around the experience, rather to move on and compare it to any other bad thing that has happened in their life."

The initial sessions of the program focus on assessing the child in order to normalize and stabilize the symptoms. There are a numerous symptoms and behaviors noted in children who have been sexually abused. Those may include sexually inappropriate behavior, post-traumatic stress symptoms such as nightmares and flash backs of the episode, intrusive thoughts, separation anxiety and difficulty concentrating. In addition, long term behaviors may include poor self-esteem, revictimization, difficulty in relationships and sexual problems.

From there, the child and therapist begin to talk about what happened and integrate the facts of the assault and the feelings that the child has surrounding the incident.

"We address the problems that hinder them in their daily life activities and re-establish that they are safe," said Stolbach. "We try to teach the child about what happened to them and reinforce that nothing is wrong with them."

The next step is to include the caretaker, which is usually the mother, into the process. It is important here to provide the opportunity for mother and child to process the meaning of the abuse together. It is important to note that through each one of these sessions the child is continuing to tell the story, which in turn helps the child create and build an understanding of the abuse.

"We address the impact the abuse has impacted the mother/child relationship. We begin to deal with the feelings that they have towards each up and begin to shore up the relationship between the two," continued Stolbach.

The final sessions concentrate on preparing the child and his or her family for the future. This includes educating them on what to do if abuse-related symptoms reappear and helping them create strategies for protection and safety.

"Our goals in the final session include preparing the child and his/her family for the future," continued Stolbach. "We want to teach them what to expect when they reach the next developmental step. We also want them to give them strategies on how to cope if bad things happen to them. We want to help them feel prepared for life."

From that assessment comes more of an understanding of the abuse related symptoms, a treatment plan and an avenue which will help the child begin to tell the story of what happened.

La Rabida Children's Hospital and Research Center provides comprehensive care for children who have chronic illnesses and long-term disabilities. La Rabida also provides the most extensive hospital-based program for neglected and abused children in Illinois. Located on the shores of Lake Michigan in Jackson Park, La Rabida has been caring for children for over 100 years.
Our Mission

La Rabida Children's Hospital and Research Center is dedicated to excellence in caring for children with chronic illnesses, disabilities, or who have been abused, enabling them to achieve their fullest potential through expertise and innovation within the health care and academic communities.

To accomplish our mission, La Rabida provides comprehensive, interdisciplinary health services to children across a continuum of care, serving as a model for family-centered care.

La Rabida provides training and education of health care professionals which will enable them to deal creatively with the challenges of children with chronic illness.

La Rabida works with public and private agencies, and other health care facilities in its shared dedication to helping children and their families.

La Rabida maintains an ongoing commitment to caring for children and families regardless of their ability to pay.
Programs and Services
Programs & Services
La Rabida offers care in these areas of expertise:

  • Asthma/Allergies
  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD)
  • Cerebral Palsy and Neuromuscular Disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Child Abuse and Mental Health Services
  • Developmental Disabilities and Delays
  • Failure-to-Thrive
  • Rehabilitation and Developmental Services
  • Rheumatologic Disorders
  • Sickle Cell Disease
  • Transitional Care Services
  • Contact
    La Rabida Children's Hospital
    East 65th Street at Lake Michigan
    Chicago, IL 60649
    (773) 363-6700