St. Mary's Medical Center remodels its pediatric wing

A new play space recently was unveiled in the seventh-floor pediatric wing at St. Mary's Medical Center. The family-friendly area now contains a television, movies, books and lots of toys. "This makes it a little less clinical and more homey place wher ethey can still be kids, says Karin VanMeter, pediatrics nurse manager.

St. Mary's Medical Center has some new and improved areas in its pediatric center after the hospital's foundation raised $1.3 million to create more child and family-friendly areas.

Last week, the hospital celebrated a remodel of some of the seventh-floor pediatric wing and unveiled a new play space for children in its seventh-floor pediatrics unit and a new nurse station.

The play area was converted from a waiting area for family members of children in the pediatric wing. It now contains a television, movies, books and lots of toys.

"This makes it a little less clinical and more homey place where they can still be kids," Pediatrics Nurse Manager Karin VanMeter said. "One of the big things is creating spaces where (children) are comfortable and feel they belong."

The nursing station was also a welcome development as nurses did not have a break room and were using a back hallway. The station allows nurses a place to take a rest and also offers a secure station with locking doors.

"To have a space where you can go and be human for a second and not just be the nurse is huge," VanMeter said.

The St. Mary's Foundation began raising money for this effort shortly after the hospital announced a partnership in 2017 with Children's Hospital Colorado to bring the "right care at the right time and at the right place" to the Western Slope.

In assisting, the foundation created the Micah Montag Pediatric Endowment and Action Fund to build areas that are family-friendly at the hospital and improve care through education and outreach in the area. The original goal was to raise $700,000, but the foundation had received $1.3 million by the end of 2018. The fund was created by friends of the Montag family in honor of Micah's battle with cancer. He died in 2014 at age 10.

The seventh-floor improvements cost about $500,000, according to hospital spokeswoman Teri Cavanagh. Additional projects will kick off later this year and early next year.

The funds will also pay for additional equipment needs, training to communicate with referral facilities and community education surrounding the identification, treatment and prevention of child abuse.

"The generosity that we receive and continue to receive is more than we could have expected or hoped for," St. Mary's Foundation Executive Director Carmen Shipley said.

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