“Fun Center” eases pain of hospital trips for kids

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Hospitalization can be a scary experience for children.

That’s one reason why Lake Charles Memorial Hospital’s Pediatric Unit in Louisiana is making kid-friendly improvements for both young patients and parents.

Every four weeks, 6-year-old Marquis Ross walks down the hall in the Pediatric Unit at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital for his monthly blood transfusion.

“I have a port and they put blood in it,” said Marquis.

Marquis was born with sickle cell anemia and the treatments are likely something that will continue all of his life.

“They give him medication that is necessary for his transfusion,” said his mother Lashanda. “They begin the blood and it takes about three and a half hours for him to receive the blood.”

During the treatments Marquis is confined to his bed.

“He watches TV,” said Lashanda, “He has a little fun, but I’m sure something else would catch his attention.”

Little did Marquis know that on this visit, he was in for a big surprise!

The “Starlight Fun Center” is the newest enhancement to Memorial’s Pediatric Unit.

It’s a mobile entertainment unit with a flat-screen television, DVD player and Nintendo Wii system.

“Sometimes it’s frightening,” explained Director of Pediatrics Carol Gehrig. “Sometimes there’s pain involved and so this is a great diversion for them. They have something to actually look forward to when they get here.”

With Marquis, the laughter is proof enough to see a shift in attitude inside his patient room.

Two Fun Centers were purchased for the Pediatric Unit, thanks to community donations.

While these systems are helping local children, the money spent purchasing them is also helping the non-profit Starlight Foundation for critically-ill children.

Now that Marquis is one more transfusion down, he’s looking to his next visit.

“Next time I come to the hospital, can I play the Wii?” Marquis asked.

And that answer is a big “yes!”