An underwater blood draw experience

A little innovation within one of UCHealth’s lab rooms is drying tears a little quicker than before.
May 22, 2018

If you’re a kid getting your blood drawn at UCHealth, there’s a wow factor to minimize the ow factor in rooms where children have their blood drawn.

It’s called the “ow to wow” room, and it’s an innovative way to change the blood draw experience for children and their families.

black light art on the walls of a lab room.
UCHealth’s lab draw room with the lights off.

The blood draw experience

It looks like a normal lab room, with a counter, cupboards and a few chairs. But when the lights go off and a black light is activated, the room becomes alive with a glowing underwater scene. Fish swim alongside a large stingray; seaweed grows from the floor; and four men in a Western painting put on their snorkels, fins and swim trunks.

lab draw room with lights on and cowboy painting on the wall.
UCHealth’s lab draw room with the lights on.

The reactions

“We love it,” said Shelby Miller, a phlebotomist at UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies. “It really gives our younger patients a little something fun after what can be a traumatic experience. And it’s fun for us too as we try to find things to wear that work with the black light.”

black light art on the walls of a lab draw room
UCHealth’s lab draw room with the lights off.

It’s no secret that children don’t like being poked by needles and can become upset by the experience, Miller said. Once the blood draw is done, the lights in the room go off, the black light goes on, and children are quickly distracted.

“It’s great to get that surprise reaction from the kiddos, and the adults like it too,” said Heather Marble, an MCR phlebotomist. “We tell them we have a surprise for them; give them little hints.”

The idea

The room came to life in November 2017 after the lab sought monetary support from the MCR Volunteer Leadership Council to contract with Ow to Wow, LLC, which designs and paints rooms.

Sea creatures in black light on the wall.
Sea creatures come to life when the lights go out.

The MCR Volunteer Leadership Council oversees the net profit from MCR’s Marketplace gift shop, and reviews and approves funding requests from various UCHealth departments that support patient and family programs in northern Colorado.

“Many times the items or programs funded enhance the patient experience, improve patient safety or improve patient lives,” said Linda Fisher, regional director of UCHealth’s volunteer program in northern Colorado.

At UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital, the PVH Volunteer Association Board oversees the net profit from Bella Boutique gift shop at the hospital and Unique Repeats thrift shop, 1025 Pennock Place #10, in Fort Collins.

“Just within the last couple of years, both these councils have funded close to a half-million dollars back to UCHealth’s patient and family programs in northern Colorado,” Fisher said.

For kids who have to have blood drawn, the effort from volunteers raises the wow factor.

About the author

Kati Blocker has always been driven to learn and explore the world around her. And every day, as a writer for UCHealth, Kati meets inspiring people, learns about life-saving technology, and gets to know the amazing people who are saving lives each day. Even better, she gets to share their stories with the world.

As a journalism major at the University of Wyoming, Kati wrote for her college newspaper. She also studied abroad in Swansea, Wales, while simultaneously writing for a Colorado metaphysical newspaper.

After college, Kati was a reporter for the Montrose Daily Press and the Telluride Watch, covering education and health care in rural Colorado, as well as city news and business.

When she's not writing, Kati is creating her own stories with her husband Joel and their two young children.