Donation Expands Child Life Program

September 12, 2013

Child Life Specialist Quienton Townsend works with

patients in the Child Life Activity Room.

ST. LOUIS - It takes more than medicine to heal a child. For kids who spend time in the hospital, whether it's a long stay or a visit to the ER, child life specialists make a world of difference.

Thanks to a generous $250,000 donation from the Arthur and Helen Baer Foundation, the Mercy Children’s Hospital Child Life program will be expanded to serve more children and the Child Life Activity Room will have a new name - the Arthur and Helen Baer Foundation Child Life Activity Room.

“For a child who is ill, the hospital is often a frightening and intimidating place,” said John Mantovani, MD, child neurologist and chairman of pediatrics at Mercy Children’s. “Our Child Life specialists provide a level of specialized care that isn’t covered by health insurance funding but goes a long way to reduce anxiety and support the care of the children and their families.”

Child Life specialists help children cope with hospitalizations by planning activities to help normalize the child’s environment, explaining diagnoses, counseling siblings and family members through hard times and doing anything else that makes the visit easier. They help kids prepare for procedures and also distract them during tests or blood draws.

At Mercy Children’s, Child Life specialists are available to kids who stay in the hospital but also to those who come through the emergency department or for an outpatient procedure.

The Arthur and Helen Baer Foundation was formed in the mid-1980s by Helen Baer, wife of the late Arthur Baer, CEO of Stix Baer and Fuller. Arthur personally funded many projects in St. Louis, such as the original Channel 9 Building. Helen was very interested in funding visual art programs for children who would not have access to those programs.

“We are happy to fund the child life program and believe it continues Arthur and Helen’s interests in enhancing the quality of life in the St. Louis Community,” said Pat Stark and Dan Sullivan, directors of the Baer Foundation.

With a legacy of faith-based care more than 150 years strong, Mercy Children’s includes pediatric hospitals in St. Louis and Springfield, Mo. Kids are cared for by more than 700 primary care providers, including pediatricians and family doctors, and more than 125 pediatric specialists.  Mercy Children’s supports healthy childhoods through educational outreach programs across four states.

Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 32 hospitals, 300 outpatient facilities, 39,000 co-workers and 2,000 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.  In Mercy’s east Missouri region, Mercy’s services include a 979-bed hospital in St. Louis, 187-bed hospital in Washington, 251-bed hospital in Festus and Mercy Clinic, a 570-member multispecialty physician organization.  


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