Austin’s Playroom, a child-friendly waiting area for pediatric patients and their families, funded by the Mario Lemieux Foundation, opened its latest room Tuesday at Allegheny General Hospital’s Center for Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents.
“Austin’s Playroom,” a special initiative of the Foundation’s Austin’s Playroom Project, is specially designed to improve children’s experiences in the health care system, whether as a visitor or a patient, by furnishing cheerful playrooms that are safe, calming and comfortable.
“We are very pleased and grateful that the Lemieux Foundation chose the Center for Traumatic Stress to build the latest Austin’s Playroom,” said Anthony Mannarino, Ph.D., director of the center and vice chair of the department of psychiatry at Allegheny General Hospital, in a news release.
“The children we treat have endured many challenges in their young lives, and it is important for them to feel that they are in a safe, friendly environment. Austin’s Playroom helps us provide that experience for our patients.”
The idea for Austin’s Playroom came when Sewickley residents Mario and Nathalie Lemieux’s only son Austin was born prematurely and required a lengthy hospitalization.
The Lemieux's found no place available in the hospital for Austin’s sisters to wait and engage in play while they tended to their son.
In just 12 years, Austin’s Playroom Project has raised funds to establish 26 Austin’s Playrooms across the Pittsburgh region as well as at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.
“Every room is like a dream come true,” Nathalie Lemieux said. “We are so happy to play a part in helping families who have children in the Center for Traumatic Stress and we hope Austin’s Playroom makes their experience a little easier. Our goal is to reach as many people as possible.”
The Center for Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents offers immediate evaluation and treatment for children and their families who have experienced traumatic life events. This program is the only one of its kind in southwestern Pennsylvania, and has received national recognition for its innovative clinical treatment approaches and research program.
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