TRAVERSE CITY: Munson Medical Center’s pediatric unit recently opened an activity room that allows kids to be kids during their hospital stay, holding with the maxim that play offers its own healing power.

“We see it as a place where they are able to get together, play and feel normal,” says Lisa Gates, a child life specialist with the hospital. “There are games, toys, and an area in the room that fits every age group from 1 to 17.”

The activity room became possible through $37,000 in memorial gifts to honor Amy McLean Calder, wife of Emergency Department physician Mac Calder, D.O., who passed away in October 2015. Before staying home to raise her children, she worked as a child life specialist in the Detroit area.

“It was one of the things Amy was passionate about,” Mac Calder says. “I work at the hospital, and it’s the hospital our kids will use, so I think she’d be happy with that. It’s a fantastic honor.”

Munson Medical Center pediatrics

Coloring books sit ready for young patients to pick up a crayon or colored pencil.

The bright, colorful  360-square-foot space includes a table and chairs for crafts, padded infant corner with a wall mirror, toddler kitchen, crafts, games, puzzles, toys, and up above, a cloud-like skylight. A train table is also planned and has already been ordered. Under a craft desk set into the wall sits a wagon and toddler scooter that can be pulled or driven out the door and down the aisle of the unit.

Room drawers include paints, paper and wood for crafts. Patients can create their own artwork and take it home with them. With about 800 patients admitted to the 17-bed unit each year, Gates expects the room to see plenty of use.

As a child life specialist, she works hard to take the fear out of a youngster’s hospital experience by explaining procedures, answering questions and providing distractions. Her position is funded through a three-year grant.

“I love my job. I feel privileged to help kids,” she says. “We get them through whatever they have to get through.”

To learn more about how to support the Child Life Program, call Munson Healthcare Foundations at 231-935-6480.

Press Release provided by Munson Medical Center

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