The Kids Korners donated by Bank of Bennington gave two waiting areas much-needed face-lifts to make them welcoming for children.
BENNINGTON, Vt. — Little hands and active minds now have something to keep them occupied while waiting for a new sibling or to see their doctor.
Southwestern Vermont Medical Center has transformed two waiting rooms into welcoming spaces for young families with the help of a $25,000 donation from the Bank of Bennington.
A "dingy" waiting room at the Women's and Children's Unit was brightened up with new wall colors and paintings, new seating and several interactive play areas with an underwater theme, all with a large window looking out at the Green Mountains. A similar makeover was done to the waiting area in the pediatrics practice but with a jungle theme.
"This has really transformed the space, it's definitely given us a much more welcoming enivornment for the kids and their parents," said Shiela Boni, interim chief nursing officer, on Tuesday. "This room is utilized frequently for people who are waiting the birth of another child. That can be a long process. There's a whole variety of activities that the kids can engage in while they're waiting for their little sister or brother to enter the world."
The room is also being used by early intervention educators to evaluate and develop educational plans for children up to age 3.
"We are one of the busiest health care providers in the state for [obstetrics] services ... close to 500 babies a year," said Thomas Dee, president and CEO of the health care system. "We take the need for developing women/child services as a very high priority for us. ...
"It's very intimidating to go to the hopsital ... this helps make the parents and the kids feel much more at home, much less anxious about why they're here."
"This is what we had in mind to make pledges for in our 100th anniversary year," said James Brown, president and chief executive officer of Bank of Bennington. "Just to have something meaningful and fun."
Dee described SVMC's relationship with the community as "terrific," a partnership between the two century-old institutions that's propelled a number of initiatives, not least of which is the ambitious redevelopment plans for the Putnam Block with a host of other community and educational groups.
Shannon McLenithan, the bank's senior vice president of retail lending, worked with Christina Crowe and her department, which oversees the hospital's materials management and purchasing, to find the right combination for each waiting room.
McLenithan said the goal was to inject some nature into the children's activities and to get them away from video games.
"We wanted to take them out of the technology world and bring them to a natural space that's much more peaceful and welcoming," she said.
There were a lot of checkpoints for anything come into the hospital building, Crowe said. "Everything here meets the standards of infection prevention and safety for our children and it meets what Shannon and the hospital really wanted, which was a children's corner that wasn't video games."
The Kids Corner uveiled on Tuesday had two activity centers from Playscapes, a company specializing in educational furniture and toys. Both had magnet puzzle games: one was a table with little chairs and the other a block with five "boards." The puzzle and alphabet pieces are behind clear acrylic and can be moved with the use of magnets. An "I Spy" poster is set at eye level for children and picks up on the visuals in the room.
But there's also a bit of high-tech for kids to play with: A smart touch-panel by Ucreate offers drawing, puzzles, and simple games.
"The children especially like it but you'll find some adults in here during the day," Boni said. "That's been kind of fun to walk in on people and catch them playing tic-tac-toe or whatever."
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