New Starlight Site at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center Unveiled

For more than five years, Banner Thunderbird Medical Center has wanted a comfortable space for families to escape the isolation of the pediatric hospital room. But, year after year, there was no extra money in the budget to make this happen.

Thanks to our partner, Niagara Cares, the wait is over.

“When I received the call that Starlight would provide the funding, I was so excited that I couldn’t wait to hang up the phone,” Wendy Pauker, child life manager at Banner Thunderbird said. “I couldn’t wait to tell everyone, from the doctors, to the families, to our CEO. That’s how much it means to all of us.”

A Necessary Refuge

Completed Family Room at Banner Thunderbird.

The Family Room, unveiled today, has a warm and inviting feel to it. There are large tables for families to enjoy a meal together and charging stations for laptops and cell phones. There’s even a child-friendly activity zone that allows young patients and their siblings to do arts and crafts.

“Once you’re in the hospital for a couple days, the walls are closing in and you need an escape like this,” Wendy says.

Over the years, the pediatric department at Banner Thunderbird has grown tremendously. With large oncology and hematology units, families stay for longer periods of time. Patient rooms can only accommodate space for the patient and one parent to stay the night. Therefore, this proves difficult when grandparents, siblings and other family members come to visit.

The new Family Room addresses the needs of all family members, whether they want to read, eat or work. Furthermore, it’s also a place for doctors to have difficult conversations with parents, instead of bedside or in the hallway.

Room to Blossom

Thunderbird Banner kids place buttons on an art piece that hangs in the new Family Room.

One of the eye-catching features of the room is a large painting of a tree, designed by a local artist. Families, Niagara employees and Starlight placed buttons on the tree to represent blossoms.

The Family Room at Banner Children’s Hospital marks the fifth Starlight Site completed in the US as part of a generous $500,000 grant from Niagara Cares awarded to Starlight in 2016 to create meaningful impact in local Niagara plant communities where Niagara employees live and work.

“To everyone at Thunderbird, it’s a sense of relief that we finally have this space for the families,” Wendy says.

If you represent a registered Starlight community partner and would like to be considered for a new healing space site or renovation, please contact Samantha Martinez. Not a registered Starlight community partner? Click here to register.

Senior VP of Communications, Chris de Haan and the Niagara Cares team at the unveiling of the new Family Room.

If you would like to help brighten the lives of seriously ill children, you can donate today. Your gift combined with the gift of others helps create moments of joy and comfort for hospitalized kids and their families.

About the Author

Tara Millspaugh

Digital Media Manager


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