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Guerin Children’s at Cedars Offers a Comfortable Place for Children’s Care

The colorful, kid-friendly facility is intended to create a comfortable and healing environment for both ailing children and their worried parents.

When it opens this summer at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center, Guerin Children’s will be, according to president and CEO Thomas M. Priselac, “an international destination for children and their families and as a leader in pediatric care and research in the United States.”

The 26-bed, 24,000 square foot unit was made possible by a record $100 million gift from the Shapell Guerin Family Foundation. The colorful, kid-friendly facility is intended to create a comfortable and healing environment for both ailing children and their worried parents.

Ophir Klein, M.D., Ph.D., will be Guerin Children’s inaugural executive director and the David and Meredith Kaplan Distinguished Chair in Children’s Health.  Known as an innovator in pediatrics and genetics, the developmental biologist comes to Cedars from U.C. San Francisco, where he has spent his 15-year career. 

The Bay Area native said Guerin Children’s mission is to serve the entirety of childhood, from pre-birth to age 21, with his daily goal “to provide a seamless continuum of primary and specialty care for hospitalized patients and outpatients as they grow from newborns to adolescents to adults.” 

The plan, he says, “is to have a full-scope program that spans all the pediatric medical specialties.” This list includes “gastroenterology, cardiology, cancer, neurology, genetics and the best surgical care we can provide, cardiac surgery, orthopedic surgery, a full complement of programs. All of that currently is offered, or it soon will be.”  Klein’s vision is to “have a program that will become a national and international destination, one of the best places in the country for tertiary and quaternary pediatric care.”  

To help accomplish that, Guerin Children’s will also offer a full complement of pediatric specialties, including maternal-fetal medicine, and pediatric surgery and transplants while making use of Cedars’ nationally recognized adult programs. “We are embedded within an outstanding adult academic medical center,” Klein said. “One of the things we believe will be special here is the ability to provide care that spans from prenatal fetal life through neonatal and pediatric care. And we will transition patients who have conditions that need care as adults directly from the pediatric provider to an adult care provider.”

The focus on children extends to the look of Guerin Children’s. The walls are painted in soft pastel colors, which enhance the mood and help younger patients find their rooms easily. Instead of the modern art that lines Cedar’s other hallways, Guerin Children features specially curated, child-friendly art installations, including a wall of 3D clouds. There is a movie theater/game room, and for children who can go outdoors, a play area and conversation corners. The rooms were also designed with an eye toward making the experience feel as little like a hospital as possible. Each of the rooms has a window that faces onto Cedars-Sinai’s Healing Gardens, and a pull-out bed and a chair that can recline completely flat, so parents or caregivers will be able to stay overnight.

“The hope is that by experiencing this environment, it will help children heal better. And the physical space will be an important part of their care.”
– Ophir Klein, M.D., Executive Director

Klein says the environment is an important part of Guerin Children’s mission. “The architects and designers put an amazing amount of thought into building this unit.” He pointed out that “a lot of services are hidden from view so that a quiet space can be provided for families while they learn their child’s health details. We provide state-of-the-art care with the latest equipment. The hope is that by experiencing this environment, it will help children heal better. And the physical space will be an important part of their care.”

Or, as a nurse commented as we were leaving, “almost makes you think you’re not in a hospital anymore.”

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