Disney magic helping children have less stressful hospital stays with $100M initiative

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan (WABC) -- Disney is committing $100 million to help make children's stays at hospitals less stressful.

Children are now enjoying the new playrooms and art installations at New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital in Washington Heights.

"Our ability to help children forget, even for a moment that they're sick...is incredibility powerful," said Bernadette Khan, Chief Nursing Officer.

For 4-year-old Sarah from Long Island, it's just what the doctor ordered.

"She sees the little things and is like, 'Oh mommy, look mommy, Mickey, Minnie Mouse,'" said Luisa Hernandez, Sarah's mother.

Iconic Disney characters now sit front and center inside NY Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital in Washington Heights.

In the playroom, it's a bit of light for a little girl who's been in and out of hospitals since birth.

"They had to resuscitate her twice within like the first few hours of being born, yeah it was bad," Hernandez said.

When Sarah was born, part of her intestines extended outside of her abdomen.

An intravenous line now gives her much-needed nutrients 12 hours a day.

For any little one, it is a lot, and that's why this magical makeover is so important.

It's all part of a $100 million initiative.

Disney's goal is to incorporate a range of iconic imagery in hospitals across the country to help patients feel more at ease.

Thirteen-year-old Jayden from the Bronx is fascinated with this digital interactive screen.

Jenny Cohen with Disney says the company did its homework.

"We actually took the entire hospital experience, broke it down to understand it, and identify those moments that were the highest stress moments throughout," said Cohen, the Executive Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility, Disney.

It's working! Once blank walls are now a kaleidoscope of colors and feature an incredible one-of-a-kind installation.
"I've seen patients receiving therapy, physical therapy and they want to be able to walk to that mural," Khan said.

Throughout the hospital, including in the emergency department, are five larger-than-life magic windows. They got Sarah through a rough spot.

"She's like, 'Mommy I see the fishies,' which is Dori. Thankfully, I'm lucky enough to have my child, I just appreciate it and appreciate every moment," Hernandez said.

Disney is the parent company of WABC.

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