Pediatric cancer patients often have their young lifestyles interrupted. Play dates and afterschool activities take a backseat to doctors’ appointments and treatment sessions. That is why the Cam Neely Foundation recently decided that if a child has to come to the hospital, they would make the trip as pleasurable and “normal” as possible. The result: redesigning the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic at Floating Hospital for Children in 2010.
The transformed clinic is now a kids’ zone of comfort, serenity and support, not just any ordinary doctor’s office. A tranquil tree-house concept welcomes families and puts them at ease while children receive blood, plasma and platelet transfusions, chemotherapy, pediatric photophoresis and other procedures.
The clinic includes a playroom made possible by the National Hockey League (NHL) and Companions in Courage Foundation called the “Lion’s Den.” The playroom has computers with live internet connections to playrooms at other pediatric clinics across the country. This allows Floating patients to connect with other children going through similar experiences.
Clinic staff and architects worked with hospital space planners to improve the flow of the 5,000 square-foot clinic to make life easier for patients and their families. “The new playroom is adjacent to the infusion rooms, so kids receiving infusions can have fun while still being close to monitors and medical staff,” said Neely Foundation Executive Director Scott Neely.
The nearby Bone Marrow Transplant Unit has a similar environment, as well as onsite apartments families can stay in while children remain hospitalized. Feedback from families and staff on their experiences in the Neely Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Unit made it clear that a bright, family-friendly care environment can make a positive impact on the lives of families dealing with serious illnesses. In addition to clinic’s bright colors and playrooms, trained child life staff members spend their days helping children through play and therapeutic activities such as arts and crafts, music and conversation.
“Children with cancer and many blood disorders spend numerous hours in the outpatient setting receiving treatment. Our child life staff and medical personnel work hard to help patients and their families cope. The clinic environment goes a long way to make the patient and their families feel comfortable and at ease,” says Cathy Rosenfield, MD, Hematologist/Oncologist at Floating Hospital. “The beautiful unit has a calming quality, which parents will appreciate, and provides the needed distraction to help children spend the day receiving treatment.”
“Our goal in renovating this clinic was to create a warm, welcoming space where kids can feel comfortable as they go through treatment,” Neely adds. “Treatment isn’t easy on anyone, but if we can do our part to make young patients and their families feel safe, secure and supported while they’re at the hospital, we’ve succeeded.”