Kapiolani Medical Center For Women & Children's Playroom Transformed To Panda Cares Center Of Hope

The newly named space supports Kapiolani’s hospitalized pediatric patients providing hope and healing through special Child Life programs and activities 08/08/2020

Person in panda costume peeking into hospital corrdor.

The Panda Cares Center of Hope at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children, known by pediatric patients as the “Playroom,” is a specialized center dedicated to promote healing and inspire hope through specially curated programs. This newly named space offers connections with departments across the medical center to support Kapiolani’s hospitalized keiki and address all facets of a child’s well-being, including their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs.

“We are honored that Panda Express selected Kapiolani to be one of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals to have a Panda Cares Center of Hope,” said Martha Smith, CEO of Kapiolani Medical Center, Pali Momi Medical Center and Straub Medical Center. “The health and well-being of our pediatric patients will be strengthened in this dedicated space. Children need specialized programs and these extra efforts to treat all their unique needs certainly enhance their outlook and recovery. We are so grateful for Panda Express and owners Andrew and Peggy Cherng for their support of Hawaii’s keiki.”

The Panda Cares Center of Hope is a safe space for kids to be kids and serves as a distraction from the clinical aspect of hospitalization. Medical staff from all areas of Kapiolani partner with the Child Life staff to create a multidisciplinary plan that touches all parts of a child’s health and happiness. By working closely with young patients who require continuous care or have a life-threatening illness, Child Life specialists who work in the Playroom help children understand what’s going on and what to expect during their stay.

This specialized care in the Panda Cares Center of Hope supports the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs of pediatric patients at Kapiolani. Physically, patients stay active while learning through play and boosting motor skills. The center features play areas with toys and an outside patio where children can enjoy time in the sunshine, which promote physical activity and support the services provided by Kapiolani’s Rehabilitation Department, including occupational and speech language therapy, hearing services, nutritional programs and more.

Kapiolani’s staff helps patients cope emotionally with illness and hospitalization by engaging children in art therapy, music therapy, pet therapy, play services, reading or school programs, counseling and more. Because a child’s hospitalization and recovery impact the whole family, Kapiolani has special family programs and support for siblings and parents as well. Child Life specialists use fun activities like medical play to help children deal with their treatment and new surroundings, which supports their mental well-being. Special dolls and medical equipment are also used as tools for children to “act out” medical procedures, which greatly helps to ease their fears. In addition, educational services provide the normalcy of school and class work with tutoring services for patients, and spiritual services are always available, with a dedicated chaplain and two chapels that are quiet and safe spaces for faith-based support and comfort.

To date, Panda Express guests and their associates in Hawai‘i have raised more than $1.8 million for Kapiolani since 2007.

“We are proud to partner with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals to bring the vision of the Panda Cares Center of Hope to life and are humbled to be able to be part of the healing journey for the families and kids at these hospitals,” said Dr. Peggy Cherng, co-founder and co-CEO of Panda Restaurant Group. “Children are our future, and we hope that through this partnership and curriculum designed to give children the strength to thrive, we will bring smiles and hope to communities nationwide.”

Made possible by donations from Panda Express guests and associates, there are eight Panda Cares Center of Hope locations across the country and they will all be celebrating Panda Cares Day on August 8 – the anniversary of its philanthropic arm, Panda Cares – with a virtual surprise story time and book donation from Panda.

To extend festivities to its guests, the American Chinese brand has organized a virtual fundraiser on Saturday, August 8, to continue to drive donations to support Kapiolani. When a guest places an order on the Panda Express mobile app or website using the promo code “PandaCaresDay,” Panda Express will donate 28% of online sales to Kapiolani. Following a commitment of $25 million to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals to fund Panda Cares Center of Hope locations in 2019, Panda and CMN Hospitals have debuted Center of Hope locations at several hospitals in the U.S. including California, Texas, Nevada, Hawaii, Washington D.C., Arizona and Illinois.

In Hawaii, Children’s Miracle Network funds help to support key programs and services at Kapiolani, such as the Child Life program and critical care transport team, as well as lifesaving equipment. Gifts made in Hawaii stay in Hawaii, with 100 percent of the funds going to help keiki.

As a not-for-profit medical center, Kapiolani relies on community support to further its mission of caring for Hawaii’s families and creating a healthier Hawaii. Kapiolani is committed to providing advanced, quality care to all patients, regardless of their ability to pay.

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Liz Chun Uyehara