Grant from The Toy Foundation helps comfort kids in HCMC’s Emergency Department

by Hennepin Healthcare

Young patient interacting with digital toy, Grant from The Toy Foundation, Emergency Department, play programs for children, help hospitalized children heal, Level I Pediatric Trauma Center, Child Life Program Coordinator Alyson Weiss

Since last year, children being seen at HCMC’s Emergency Department in the heart of downtown Minneapolis have been enjoying new toys thanks to a grant from The Toy Foundation, a charitable organization that works with the toy industry to support play programs for children. HCMC was chosen as one of the recipients of grants totaling more than $215,000 that were distributed to children’s hospitals for innovative play projects designed to help hospitalized children heal.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the health and well-being of millions of children resulting in a rise in emergency room visits and hospitalizations for mental, emotional, and behavioral health conditions. To help children’s hospitals, especially those serving disadvantaged communities, address this crisis through the therapeutic power of play, The Toy Foundation and Children’s Hospital Association partnered to create “Grants for Play Projects.”

“It’s unbelievable how distraction elements can make a difference in the lives of children coming to the emergency department for care,” explains Child Life Program Coordinator Alyson Weiss.  “We are so grateful for this generous gift that just keeps on giving.”

Hennepin Healthcare is a nationally recognized system of care that includes HCMC, a Level I Adult Trauma Center and Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center with the largest emergency department in Minnesota, where 5,000 to 8,000 children are cared for every year. This donation also impacts the additional children of adult patients or siblings of pediatric patients who find themselves in HCMC’s waiting rooms or exam rooms.

The toys purchased with the $25,00 grant from The Toy Foundation helped to make the environment in the pediatric area of the emergency department more friendly and welcoming. Wall game units, bubble tubes, and toys and elements to keep a toy cart sorted by age stocked were some of the items purchased with the grant.

“Whether kids are coming in with a broken arm or are feeling crummy, these toys help them think about something else while they are being assessed and treated,” said Weiss. “Over the past year, we’ve also seen more kids having mental health issues along with whatever else they are struggling with, so these toys can create conversation pieces and make a connection and a difference for patients, providers, and families.”

HCMC is a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center and public teaching hospital located in downtown Minneapolis offering a full spectrum of inpatient and outpatient pediatric care.

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