Celebrating Day of the Child with Kid-friendly Spaces

May 1, 2013

Areas in the new Mercy Children's Hospital Springfield demonstrate 
Mercy's design plans for kids. To read full descriptions click through to Flickr.

By Mercy's Laura Keep

Whether it’s an ear infection, strep throat or broken bones, most parents and their children inevitably find themselves in pediatrician offices, emergency departments and even hospital rooms at one time or another. Mercy is making these visits less stressful by designing spaces especially for kids.

“When children are sick, they feel anxious. They need places that feel less threatening,” said Dr. Joseph Kahn, president of Mercy Children’s Hospital Services. “We are intentionally designing and creating spaces across Mercy that provide comfort, calm and interactive areas for children and their families.”

Mercy’s growing design plan for children includes spaces for well kids, sick kids, teens, children with special needs and their families. It allows children to choose the type of environment in which to engage.

“If kids are feeling sick, we want them to be able to lie down and rest on their parent’s lap. If they are feeling well, we want them to have interactive, happy areas, including places where they can enjoy the outdoors,” said Cindy Beckham, Mercy’s executive director of facility design. “If it’s teenagers, we want them to have a place to do homework, listen to music or just be themselves.”

Prime example: the Cardinals Kids Cancer Center, which is part of Mercy Children’s Hospital St. Louis, has a tree house children can crawl into if they’re feeling bad and want to rest and a video game area where they can play Dance-Dance Revolution. There are also places where kids can sit and draw while receiving chemotherapy and areas where they can run the bases of a mock baseball stadium.

Beyond kids, the spaces are designed with moms, dads, siblings and grandparents in mind. “It’s about serving the needs of the entire support system,” said Beckham. “And those spaces need to be versatile. Sometimes families need a quiet place to regroup or a place to gather and just enjoy each other.”

On Mercy’s Day of the Child, May 1, Mercy reaffirms its ongoing commitment to excellence in children’s health and the need for spaces that celebrate kids. Several new children’s projects underway that incorporate a kid-focused design include:

  • Renovation and redesign of 56,000 square feet within Mercy Children’s Hospital in Springfield, Mo., including an expanded Jane Pitt Pediatric Cancer Center. New space will provide two courtyards with play spaces, a child-friendly food service area, a resource center with computer stations and an area for pediatric outpatient testing and treatment. The first phase is scheduled to open October 2013.

  • New inpatient pediatric unit devoted specifically to caring for kids at Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith, Ark. With eight beds, the unit will be positioned next to the labor and delivery and neonatal intensive care units, bringing all children’s care into one area. The unit will incorporate new design elements, as well as make the Ronald McDonald Family Room more accessible to families of pediatric patients. Opening is set for September 2013.

  • A 3,200-square-foot Ronald McDonald Family Room under construction inside Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas in Rogers, Ark., will keep families close to their sick children.  The family room will include four bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, dining area, as well as a playroom for visiting siblings. Family room is expected to open July 2013.

Mercy has been dedicated to little ones inspiring us to do big things since 1827 when Mercy Founder Catherine McAuley began serving children and women in Ireland. On Mercy’s Day of the Child, May 1, we celebrate and honor children, children’s health and those in our ministry who have the privilege of caring for Mercy’s youngest patients.




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