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The University of Chicago Medicine - Comer Children's Hospital

Fact Sheet: Family-Centered Care

When a child is admitted to the hospital, it's stressful for his or her entire family. That's why the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital was designed for family-centered care. From our large, private rooms with in-room sleeping accommodations for parents to the healing garden, Family Care Center, and Family Learning Center, our facility and staff are prepared for the concerns and needs families may have. This gives the family more time to focus on the most important thing - their child.

Kid-Friendly Features

Each floor of Comer Children's is inspired by poetry. Selected poems are incorporated into various forms of artwork, including paintings, sculptures, and quilts. The artwork, with its corresponding poems, helps create an environment that inspires hope, healing, and learning. The pieces are hung at varying heights, so children of all sizes - and even adults - can easily see them.

Comfortable, Child-Friendly Rooms

Vibrant colors and large private rooms help children feel more at home. The single rooms are 308 square feet in size - large enough for wheelchairs to move freely. Each room contains a small bookshelf, desk area, and bulletin board. The rooms also have a flat-screen TV/computer where children can access child-appropriate Web sites, send and receive email, listen to music, and watch movies on demand. A child and his or her parents also can regulate the climate and lighting of the room, and adjust the height of the showers.

The sight of medical and technical equipment in a patient room can intimidate or scare children. The equipment is masked by art or is not exposed in Comer Children's. This leaves rooms with a spacious and uncluttered look and creates an environment where children feel secure.

Children will not hear the sound of an overhead paging system. A wireless call system enables patients to page their nurses when the call button is pressed. This makes our hospital a quieter, calmer place for children.

"Room Service" Approach

The "room service" approach to meals at Comer Children's allows children to order food any time between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. by calling 4-FOOD. Each room will have a menu. Food requests are checked to see if they meet the physician's instructions to assure correct food for your child's condition and status. Food is available for a variety of special needs, including vegetarian and kosher cuisine.

Group Play Areas

Play areas let kids be kids. They offer safe, fun-filled places of refuge where no medical procedures are performed. The playroom, a teen room, and an outdoor playground are located on the main floor. Smaller play areas, which provide games, toys, and books, are located on floors three through six.

The 5,000-square-foot outdoor playground provides challenging, yet accessible play equipment for patients and their siblings. The equipment offers varying stages of difficulty, so that children can challenge themselves and independently choose goals that they are ready to accomplish.

Child Life specialists from the Child Life Program offer opportunities for educational, developmental, and therapeutic programs, which include art therapy, music therapy, pet therapy, medical bingo, a cooking program, and more. If children are too ill to come to the playroom, events are telecast to the rooms, so they won't miss out. Volunteers also bring toys, books, and games to children's bedsides.

Family-Friendly Features

In-Room Sleeping Accommodations for Parents

Comer Children's provides families with many comforts of home while staying with their children. Each patient room has a queen-size sofa bed and recliner so family members don't have to leave their child's side. A small refrigerator in every room lets children and families keep their own snacks.

Nurses in Sight

Nurse charting alcoves are located outside patient rooms with one alcove for every two rooms. The alcoves are surrounded by glass, which allows nurses direct view into a child's room. This improves patient care and comfort by making the staff more visible to children and families.

Bedside Admissions

In some hospitals, the admission process can be stressful for both family and patient. Parents often are asked to leave their child's side to complete paperwork for hospital admission. At Comer Children's, requests for admission are electronic. An admission representative comes to the child's bedside. With all transactions occurring in the patient's room, the child and his or her parents can become oriented to their room and the amenities offered. The representative places a follow-up telephone call to the family within 24 to 48 hours after admission to ensure all questions have been answered.

Family Care Center

The Family Care Center is located on the second floor, and includes laundry facilities and a vending machine area. A family kitchen also is located on the sixth floor.

Family Learning Center

Located on the main floor, the Family Learning Center is a resource area for parents and caregivers. It provides computers with Internet access, books, videos, and other tools for learning about childhood health and illnesses. The center offers educational and supportive services that include training for post-hospital care, preventive and wellness education, information about recreational opportunities, and places to stay in the Chicago area as well as reading games, computer games, and videos for patients and their siblings. Learn more about the Family Learning Center.

Chapel

The Department of Pastoral Care provides interfaith, compassionate, and sensitive care to patients and families. The staff fully supports each person or family that requests such help, using the individual faith of the family as the basis of this support. Our chapel is located on the main floor, yet it is set back from mainstream traffic for peace and privacy.