Thanks to the generosity of the Pittsburgh-based Mario Lemieux Foundation as well as donors to The Foundation for Mount Nittany Medical Center, Mount Nittany Medical Center opened Austin’s Playroom for its young patients and their siblings today.
Accompanying hospital officials for the ribbon cutting ceremony were Nathalie Lemieux, wife of Mario Lemieux and chair of Austin’s Playroom Project, and their son, Austin, for whom the playroom is named. Executive Director of the Mario Lemieux Foundation, Nancy Angus, also traveled from Pittsburgh for the event.
“We are incredibly proud and deeply honored that Nathalie Lemieux and the Lemieux Foundation selected Mount Nittany Medical Center as their latest site for an Austin’s Playroom. Austin’s Playroom Project is a wonderful and much needed service for thousands of families across several states. We cannot thank them enough for this amazing gift,” said Steve Brown, FACHE, president and CEO, Mount Nittany Health.
“Parents often have limited time visiting their hospitalized child and speaking with medical staff because they also have to manage their other children. The playroom will help solve that by providing the siblings a safe and child-focused place to occupy their time while mom or dad is with the patient. And, when our young patients are feeling better, they too, can enjoy the playroom,” said Brown.
In 2000, Nathalie Lemieux expanded the Foundation’s scope of charitable giving when she created Austin’s Playroom Project. Austin’s Playroom at Mount Nittany Medical Center is the 28th playroom to be established. Each Austin’s Playroom’s features comfortable child-size furnishings, as well as games, toys, books, electronics, an aquarium and child-friendly artwork. Mount Nittany Medical Center’s Austin’s Playroom was uniquely and personally designed by Nathalie Lemieux and features an interactive gaming kiosk, train table, wall-mounted games, and large screen TV/DVD player, inside a brightly painted room.
Austin’s Playroom Project was created from Nathalie and Mario Lemieux’s personal experience while caring for their profoundly premature infant son at Magee-Womens Hospital. While caring for Austin and meeting with medical personnel at the hospital, Mario and Nathalie realized there was no comfortable, fun, engaging place for their two young daughters, both toddlers at the time, to wait for them.
It was on Nathalie’s first Mother’s Day with Austin that she developed a plan to help parents facing the same issue by raising funds for playrooms throughout western Pennsylvania and beyond.
“We are so pleased to open this new playroom at Mount Nittany Medical Center,” said Nathalie Lemieux. “We are happy to play a part in helping families in the emergency department. Our goal is to reach as many people as possible, and we are thrilled to bring Austin’s Playroom to State College and serve the central part of our state. Opening each and every playroom is like a dream come true.”
Several of the facilities that already have benefited from Austin’s Playroom Project include Walter Reed National Military Medical Center located in Bethesda, MD, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, and Magee-Women’s Hospital.
For information on the Mario Lemieux Foundation and its various health care initiatives, including Austin’s Playroom Project, visit mariolemieux.org. For more information about ED services, visit mountnittany.org.