With the goal of making its facilities feel like home and enhancing program offerings, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin last week announced an expansion project that will benefit youth diagnosed with cancer and blood disorders.
The Northwestern Mutual Foundation is providing the Wauwatosa-based facility with a $2 million grant to see the effort through. Construction is expected to begin within the next several months, and the addition is slated to open by early 2015.
"The key thing is this will be a better space for the children visiting this area," Children's Hospital spokeswoman Gerry Steele said. "This is an area for kids who don't need overnight stays, but they still have prolonged treatments that last anywhere from four to eight hours for each visit."
According to Children's Hospital officials, the addition will be located on the fifth floor of the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer, or MACC, Fund Center.
The addition, to be named the Northwestern Mutual Day Hospital for Childhood Cancer, will feature a variety of amenities, including a play and recreation area and additional rooms devoted to exams and treatments. Conference rooms also are included in the plans.
Children's Hospital anticipates hiring additional staff for a variety of services, including emotional support during treatments. Specially trained staff will facilitate recreational and educational activities for children and families.
Depending upon a child's condition, Steele said, treatment processes can be grueling for the recipients.
"This is about trying to make them more comfortable," she said. "It is going to enhance the services we already offer the children."
The new addition is an enhancement to a long-running string of services offered at Children's Hospital.
Since its inception in 1980, the hospital's oncology program has provided treatments to more than 5,000 children who have been diagnosed with various forms of cancer. An additional 1,000 children have been the recipients of blood and marrow transplants.
In a statement, Peggy Troy, CEO of Children's Hospital, lauded the Northwestern Mutual Foundation for its support.
"This gift will go a long way in helping us create an environment to reflect our philosophy that family members provide critical emotional support to a child fighting cancer," Troy said in the statement. "This space will align with the world-class care we provide to kids."
Foundation stays focused
The Northwestern Mutual Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Milwaukee-based insurance company.
In addition to its recent support of the addition at Children's Hospital, the foundation has lent its support to finding a cure for childhood cancer. According to foundation officials, more than $2.3 million has been allocated to the childhood cancer program, begun in July, 2012.
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