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Heritage Valley Beaver Dedicates Austin's Playroom in Newly Renovated Emergency Department

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins
Beaver, PA – Heritage Valley Health System unveiled its “Austin’s Playroom” in the Heritage Valley Beaver Auxiliary Emergency Department with a special ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, September 13.  

“Austin’s Playroom,” is a specially designed, child-friendly waiting area for pediatric patients and their siblings, which was constructed through a generous donation by Kevin and Tammy McCarl.  The playroom is named after Austin Lemieux, the son of former Pittsburgh Penguins star and current Penguins owner, Mario Lemieux, and his wife Nathalie. The playroom features age-appropriate games and toys, a train table and interactive kiosk to provide waiting children and families with a safe, calm and educational environment.

“It’s challenging for parents when they are in the emergency department with a sick or injured child to manage the child’s siblings at the same time,” explained Nancy Angus, executive director, The Mario Lemieux Foundation. “While the sick child is receiving attention from doctors, nurses and his or her parents, the child’s siblings may get lost in the picture.  This is why we established Austin’s Playroom Project. To assist healthcare facilities and focus on family centered care.”

The opening of this room makes a total of 24 Austin’s Playrooms opened in Southwestern Pennsylvania and other areas, with an additional four rooms to be completed by the end of the year.

Austin’s Playroom Project was established following Nathalie and Mario Lemieux's personal experience while caring for their profoundly premature infant son at Magee-Womens Hospital. As they were tending to young Austin, there was no place to engage the lively minds of his sisters, as well as provide a comfortable calming environment. It was then that Nathalie devised this idea to someday raise funds for playrooms in hospitals and medical facilities.

Austin’s Playroom Project seeks to benefit families and improve the quality of a child's hospital experience whether as a visitor or patient by furnishing cheerful playrooms that are safe, calming and comfortable. Nathalie Lemieux serves as Chair of Austin’s Playroom Project, and each room is called Austin's Playroom.  Mario Lemieux is Chairman of the Mario Lemieux Foundation.

“We are very grateful for the generosity of Kevin and Tammy McCarl for funding the Austin’s Playroom as part of the recent capital campaign for our new emergency department at Heritage Valley Beaver,” said Norm Mitry, president and CEO of Heritage Valley Health System.  “Like the Austin’s Playroom on our Sewickley campus, this special room will provide children with a positive distraction during their time in the emergency department and help reduce the anxiety levels of these young patients and their families.”

Austin’s Playroom was the final piece of the larger expansion and renovation project for the Heritage Valley Beaver Auxiliary Emergency Department.  Additional toys and supplies for the playroom were made possible through gifts from the Beaver County Car Cruise Committee.
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