Play area at St. Mary’s about more than fun and games

Phil Castle, The Business Times

A new outdoor play area at SCL Health St. Mary’s includes metal features that can be played like musical instruments. The play area constitutes the second phase of a collaborative effort to offer more child and family-friendly areas in the Grand Junction hospital. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Another play area has opened at SCL Health St Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, but the place isn’t strictly about fun and games.

“It will provide a much-needed respite for patient families and help ease the stress of being in a hospital environment,” said Carmen Shipley, executive director of the St. Mary’s Foundation.

Bryan Johnson, president of SCL Health St. Mary’s, agreed. “This is an exciting thing. It’s fun to watch kids in a healing environment.”

SCL Health St. Mary’s officially unveiled the outdoor play area at a ribbon-cutting and media event. The area is located near the main hospital entrance and includes seating as well as metal features that can be played like musical instruments.

Shipley said the area constitutes the second phase of an effort to create more child and family-friendly areas throughout the hospital. Last year, a new play area opened in the pediatric unit on the seventh floor of the hospital.

The effort is funded in part by the Micah Montag Pediatric Endowment & Action Fund. The fund was established by friends of the Montag family to honor Micah, a 10-year-old Grand Junction boy whose life was cut short by cancer. Contributions to the fund have exceeded the $1 million goal, Shipley said.

In addition to the play areas, the fund has supported the purchase of cribs, high chairs,  swings and other pediatric equipment; telemedicine equipment and training to communicate with referral facilities across Western Colorado and Eastern Utah; and community education to identify, treat and prevent child abuse.

Six Rotary clubs — the Delta, Fruita, Grand Junction and Montrose clubs as well as the Horizon Sunrise and Palisade Sunrise clubs — donated a total of $28,000 for the outdoor play area.

PNCI Construction and eight other subcontractors donated their services to complete the project.

Shipley praised what she said was a collaborative effort. “We are very grateful to our local Rotary clubs and to the many local contractors that came together to make this project possible.”