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New playroom supported by Dunkin’ allows pediatric patients a place where they feel comfortable to be themselves, have fun and heal | VUMC Reporter

3 min read
Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt leaders recently celebrate the renovation of a patient playroom along with representatives from Dunkin’ area franchises, the Joy in Childhood Foundation, and patient ambassador, Hannah Kinslow. (photo by Donn Jones)
Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt leaders recently celebrate the renovation of a patient playroom along with representatives from Dunkin’ area franchises, the Joy in Childhood Foundation, and patient ambassador Hannah Kinslow. (photo by Donn Jones)

by Christina Echegaray

Infants and toddlers at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt have a newly renovated space in which to play thanks to a $150,000 grant from Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation. The Dunkin’ Joyful Space program strives to bring children joy while healing in the hospital.

Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation has been a longtime partner of Monroe Carell. Previously, the Joy in Childhood Foundation helped support, in part, renovations for the hospital’s surgery waiting area designed with therapeutic and diversionary activities to engage children and families as they wait. Since 2015, gifts and pledges from Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation have totaled more than $450,000.

To celebrate the latest gift and playroom project, Monroe Carell leadership recently celebrated the redesign along with representatives from Dunkin’ area franchises, the Joy in Childhood Foundation, and patient ambassador Hannah Kinslow.

“What a JOY it is to work with the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation,” said Janet Cross, MEd, CCLS, CPXP, senior director, Patient and Family-Centered Care. “This group truly and passionately wants to learn the needs of patients and families and how they can have a positive impact on the emotional care of children and their families. This significant gift has helped create a new space that is inviting and fun as well as safe and developmentally appropriate. We are so proud to partner with Dunkin’ in the multiple ways they support children, families and staff.”

Patient ambassador Hannah Kinslow, plays with Legos along with Mikalee Whitehurst, a child life assistant, in the newly renovated playroom at Monroe Carell. (photo by Donn Jones)
Patient ambassador Hannah Kinslow, plays with Legos along with Mikalee Whitehurst, a child life assistant, in the newly renovated playroom at Monroe Carell. (photo by Donn Jones)

Monroe Carell has eight playrooms. Whether it’s rattles or music toys for infants, puzzles or video games for school-aged children, or a pool table and arts for teens, there is something for everyone. With the Dunkin grant, the hospital upgraded an existing playroom, and within the space, designed and installed an area specially for younger patients.

The Dunkin’ supported playroom space, The Jesse Ely Wills III Playroom, allows pediatric patients a place where they feel comfortable to be themselves, have fun and heal. Prior to this grant, the seventh-floor playroom had not been renovated since the hospital opened in 2004.

The playroom, overseen by the Child Life team, is located on the pediatric medical acute floor, which serves children of all ages, making this the ideal location. Upgrades to the room included constructing an area specifically designed for infants and toddlers, new seating and furniture, production of wall graphics, a new oxygen port added to the toddler area, and updated technology and audio/visual items.

Dunkin’ Joyful Spaces is the newest grant opportunity added to the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation’s list of programs that help bring joy to kids. Launched in 2022, the program’s intent is to help hospitals and health care centers create and update spaces for children and their families to escape the traditional hospital setting and enjoy a community garden, playground or playroom. Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation raises funds through their franchisees, partners, employees, and customers to award funding to “provide the simple joys of childhood to kids battling hunger or illness.”

“Our Dunkin’ Joyful Spaces program allows pediatric patients and their families an opportunity to step away from the normal hospital environment and into a space that’s more joyful and child-friendly,” said Victor Carvalho, chairman of the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation Board. “We were proud to partner with Monroe Carell to bring this special place for children.”

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