HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — With more kids getting COVID-19, some hospitals are finding ways to make a tough situation a little lighter.

South Texas Health System (STHS) is finding ways to put smiles on their patients’ faces. 

“Unfortunately, due to covid a lot of things have changed. We used to be able to group events. We used to go room to room and have visitors visit our kids,” said Certified Child Specialist Stephanie Villalobos. 

That wasn’t the only change STHS saw since the start of the pandemic. Hospital officials said some of their patients are kids who have COVID-19. Villalobos said they had to adjust interactions. 

“We started using it as a virtual playroom,” Villalobos explained. “So what happens is either myself or an incoming visitor will do activities with the kids. Patients will get an iPad brought to their room and then they can participate in the activity.”

Not all the patients’ moments are limited through a screen as the staff tries to keep positive morale in the air. 

“The differences we have right now are it will be like an activity bag that can be brought to the patient at age-appropriate games and toys,” Villalobos added. “It will be more one on one sessions with the kids, so I have gone into the room and we have played cards.”

Villalobos said visitations are still limited with one parent at each bedside.

Psychotherapist Maria Alejandra Mazariegos said the limitation of visitors could make going through having COVID-19 harder for kids. 

“For kids who are unfortunately having to go through this and having to be separated from the one parent or their entire families as they’re healing, it’s going to definitely add higher and higher other levels of stress,” said Mazariegos.

She said that is where parents step in. Explaining that even if it is just one parent with the child at the hospital, they are able to make their child calm and feel safe. 

“Share loving memories with [the] kids and reassure them how missed and loved they are and that everybody is going through this together, and they’re not alone,” said Mazariegos.

Rio Grande Valley health officials urge everyone to wear a mask and do what they can to stop the spread of the virus.