Chloe Light, a certified child life specialist at Children’s of Alabama, is well-versed in hospital life as both an employee and a patient. At just 4 days old, Chloe was admitted to Children’s after being diagnosed with congenital heart disease (CHD).
Congenital heart disease is a problem with the structure of the heart and one of the most common birth defects. Chloe would have three open-heart surgeries by the time she was 1 ½.
“Even though I was too young to remember my surgeries, I have dealt with this (condition) my entire life,” Chloe said. She recalls her parents’ stories of her love of “Red Wagon” rides during her visits to Children’s. “I love that Children’s still has wagons here and that they really are the highlight of some patients’ day.”
Growing up with CHD, Chloe was closely evaluated by specialists. As a child, she remembers being a little frightened when she had to wear a heart monitor to measure and record her heart’s activities. “Going to school wearing a large bag with cords hanging out of it was probably the first time I really realized that I was a little bit different than my friends,” she said. “But any fear I had was always overcome by my parents who encouraged me to be as normal as possible.”
Chloe said the dedicated medical care she received as a child at Children’s is a mainstay today. Her parents always brag about the loving the staff and how they consistently supported her family. In March 2019, at age 23, she again experienced that support as a patient.
“I had a cardiac stent placed in my heart to repair a part of my aorta that was beginning to narrow again,” she said. “When I was waiting to go back for the procedure, I just remember how wonderful and supportive the staff was when I asked questions and even expressed that I was nervous about the procedure. I was cared for so well.”
Chloe also expressed how unusual it was being at work but being a patient, too. Having the perspective as a patient and an employee validated her decision for being a part of the Children’s family.
Today, Chloe is adjusting to her new medication after her recent procedure and enjoys working out, reading and traveling with her husband when she is off the clock.
Chloe’s medical background as a patient was her inspiration to go into the medical field. Her passion was to serve families who were going through difficult situations like she had. That is why she chose to work in Child Life Services.
“I am able to educate children about the hospital, their diagnosis, teach them coping skills and answer questions that I myself had as a child with medical needs,” she said. “Walking alongside families and children during some of their hardest days, and also their best days, is so rewarding. When I see the hard things at work, it puts spending time with family and other things into perspective. It really allows me to prioritize the most important things life.”