Remodeling at St. Mary’s pediatric unit about child’s play— and more

Phil Castle, The Business Times

ordan Knickerbocker, left, a pediatric nurse, and Karin VanMeter, a nurse manager, look over a new play area for children on the pediatric unit at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction. Remodeling on the unit was funded by the Micah Montag Pediatric Endowment & Action Fund. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

The new play area in the pediatric unit at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction isn’t a place strictly for fun and games.

The area also offers a place — along with the motivation — to promote recovery in the young patients there, according to Karin VanMeter, a nurse manager on the unit. “It’s a good way to get them up and moving.”

The play area is among the results of a remodeling project that also includes a new family area, nursing station and break room.

The break room also constitutes a welcome addition for nurses there working long shifts, VanMeter said. “It’s huge.”

St. Mary’s Medical Center officially unveiled the changes on the seventh floor at a ribbon-cutting and media event.

Carmen Shipley, executive director of the St. Mary’s Medical Center Foundation, said the work was funded 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 far exceeded goals, Shipley said. By the end of 2018, contributions totaled $1.3 million, topping the $1 million goal by $300,000.

In addition to the remodeling project, the fund has supported the creation of other child and family-friendly areas in the hospital; 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.