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Feb. 20, 2015 - USA Children's & Women's Hospital Awarded Mattel Children's Foundation Grant


USA Children's & Women's Hospital Administrator Owen Bailey addresses the crowd at the first Bell Ringing (chemotherapy completion celebration) ever held in our new Courtyard. The Courtyard was part of a recent $72 million expansion of the hospital. OUr hospital was recently awarded the Mattel Play Grant to enhance the activities the hospital offers in the Courtyard, as well as provide material for an outdoor theatre.

Children receiving care at the University of South Alabama Children’s & Women’s Hospital will experience the healing power of play thanks to a grant awarded to the hospital by the Mattel Children’s Foundation in conjunction with the Children’s Hospital Association.

The grant, just one of seven awarded across the country through the Mattel Play Grants program, will award $15,000 to USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital to enhance the hospital's new courtyard, creating a comfortable and inviting area for families to bond and for patients to enjoy some fresh air and fun activities in sunshine or under the stars. 

“With grant funding for the 'Courtyard Comes to Life' project, Child Life will be able to provide purposeful distraction and appropriate activities outdoors for patients to encourage physical movement and improve the patient's overall hospital experience and recovery,” said Kimberly Thompson-Yates, director of the Mapp Child and Family Life Program. 

The vision for a the Courtyard includes an outdoor theater, performance area and play equipment.

“The purpose of these Play Grants is to make it possible for hospitals across the country to come up with new and innovative ways to use play as a healing tool for children recovering from surgery and battling various illnesses,” said Robert Goodwin, Executive Director of the Mattel Children’s Foundation.

Playing_By_Air_CWCourtyard_2014.jpg“We are grateful to the Children’s Hospital Association and USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital for helping us making a meaningful difference in the lives of some very deserving children.” 

The Mattel Play Grants program builds on the success of a 10-year partnership between the Children’s Hospital Association and the Mattel Children’s Foundation that has delivered over a half million toys to pediatric patients at children’s hospitals, helping create positive healing environments nationwide.

"One of the difficulties children face during an extended hospital stay is maintaining the joy of childhood through the many procedures and treatments they undergo," said Mark Wietecha, Children's Hospital Association President and CEO. "The Mattel Children's Foundation Play Grants will support children's hospitals in their quest to create healing environments that allow children to engage in play and, frankly, just be kids."

For more information about Mattel Play Grants, go to

About USA Children's & Women's Hospital 

The University of South Alabama Children's & Women's Hospital is among a handful of freestanding hospitals in the United States dedicated specifically to the health care needs of children and women. USACWH health care professionals are uniquely qualified and equipped to provide a wide range of therapeutic and surgical services for children and women, be it life-threatening illness, traumatic injury, premature birth or high-risk obstetrical and gynecological needs. 

USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital is the Mobile area’s leading provider of health services for newborn babies and their mothers. The Labor & Delivery Unit successfully delivers more than 2,800 babies each year, an average of five to 15 babies each day, which is twice as many births as any other hospital in Mobile. The unit also features 15 private birthing suites promoting family-centered care and three operating rooms for cesarean section deliveries and other obstetric procedures. 

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Additional Details about Our Application for the Mattel Play Grant

The Mapp Child & Family Life Program provides therapeutic activities to help pediatric patients and families cope with stress, anxiety, and the challenges associated with illness and the hospital experience. The MCFLP is comprised of two areas of service- education and child life therapy. 

Staff for the Mapp Child & Family Life PRogram include:

Child Life - three full-time certified Child Life/Therapeutic Recreation professionals

Educational Component - four full-time highly qualified teachers and a teacher's assistant 

Child Life and education services are delivered in four areas - The Treehouse play room, a Teen Lounge and activity center and two classrooms. These special indoor therapy zones allow children to cope with the stress of hospitalization through playing as children naturally do.

The goal of the Mapp Child and Family Life Program is to ease a child's fear and anxiety about hospitalization with therapeutic/recreational activities and school services to normalize the hospital environment. We know and understand the value of entertainment, activity and distraction for our families during hospitalization.   The hospital recently completed an expansion that doubled the space for pediatric service delivery and enhanced the aesthetics of the hospital environment. A new courtyard was also included as part of the expansion. Since August 2014, this area as served as the site for a Juggler performance, a Bell Ringing in celebration of the end of chemotherapy treatment, and a science class. Child Life has a calendar full of events planned for 2014-15, but due to heat issues (lack of shade) and the need for additional equipment, the team is having to curb their enthusiasm and restrict some of these activities.  

By offering more shade, additional play equipment and portable gaming and entertainment resources including an outdoor theater, we can transform a beautiful courtyard into a state-of-the-art entertainment zone for children, families, guests and the community. We are approached daily by groups wanting to engage our hospital and patients. The courtyard could be the new venue for volunteer engagement and community-to-patient events. 

At USA Children's & Women's Hospital, we have the goal to create an environment that not only meets the medical needs of children but also their psychosocial, emotional and physical needs. We aim to instill in their hospital environment the comforts of the life they left beyond the hospital walls. It is through the idea of normalization of the environment that children can learn to cope with illness, anxiety, stress , and the fears that can be associated with hospitalization.   We have witnessed the benefits of offering our patients gaming and entertainment outlets. Research shows electronic gaming and active distraction can serve as a method of pain management. This could reduce the amount of pain medication a child would request and possibly help shorten the recovery time.   Another benefit of this project would be creating a place for families to get fresh air, bond and spend quality time together.

By providing a comfortable and safe outdoor play zone for patients and families, we would expect the outcome to show significant reductions in anxiety and stress, reduction in pain perception, reduced request for pain medications, more willingness to participate in physical therapies or activity, and over all increases in patient satisfaction and enjoyment of the recovery process. Several tools could be used to measure outcomes of offering this additional distraction- observation, baseline medical record data from previous visits such as length of stays and medication required, to basic data collection. We are a teaching hospital and connected to the University of South Alabama with great interest in research and outcomes.

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