CRYSTAL CITY, Mo. – Among the many benefits to the local community in the transition to Mercy Hospital Jefferson is the affiliation with Mercy Children's Hospital in St. Louis and all of its resources.
Pediatrician Venkata S. Nagireddi, M.D., says the connection provides clinical, physical and relationship benefits that go well beyond the experience and expertise of the caregivers in St. Louis.
"Area residents will be happy to learn how beneficial it is to our children and families for our local hospital to be so closely related to the work of the pediatric specialists and staff at Mercy Children's Hospital," Nagireddi said. "Our association will bring opportunities for improved patient care in so many ways."
As children grow, parents and children inevitably find themselves in pediatrician’s offices, emergency departments and even hospital rooms. Beyond having great doctors and staff, Mercy is striving to make these visits more comfortable by designing spaces especially for kids.
“Children and their families need comfortable spaces for their care. Children feel anxious when they are sick and need medical care, whether it is delivered in the familiar space of their doctor’s office or the strange threatening space of a hospital,” said Dr. Joseph Kahn, president of Mercy Children’s Services. “We are designing and building comforting, calming and interactive spaces with the child and their family in mind.”
Mercy’s growing design plan for children includes spaces for well kids, sick kids, adolescents, children with special needs and their families. It allows children to pick the type of environment in which they engage.
“If kids are feeling sick, we want them to be able to lie down and rest on their parents’ lap. If they are feeling well, we want them to have interactive happy areas, including places where they can enjoy the outdoors. If teenagers are there we want them to have a place to do homework, listen to music or just sulk if they want to,” said Cindy Beckham, executive director of facility design. “Given all this, we’re also working to create a calm place for those we serve. We make our spaces lively but not hyperactive.”
For example, the Children’s Cancer Center at Mercy St. Louis includes a tree house that children can crawl into if they’re feeling bad and need to rest as well as a video game area where kids can be found playing Dance-Dance Revolution. There’s a place where kids can sit down and draw while they’re receiving chemotherapy treatment, or a place where they can run the bases of a mock baseball stadium.
“We are creating spaces that encourage games of imagination on our site, so kids will want to go to our facilities even when they’re well,” Beckham said.
Of course, children who are patients come with moms, dads, siblings and grandparents in tow. New spaces will focus on serving the needs of the patient’s entire support system. This may mean a quiet place to regroup alone or a space where the whole family can enjoy time together.
Across Mercy’s four-state health ministry, new spaces for children will embrace thoughtful, welcoming, personal design that gives children and families the support they need.
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 to care for Mercy’s youngest patients.