University of Iowa Children’s Hospital Stays Mission-True with New Outdoor Play Area

October 23, 2012

“Even in the hospital, play is the work of children,” says Tami Pollari, Director of Patient- and Family-Centered Services. After sponsoring a local mall’s play space, the hospital asked PLAYTIME to create a play area for patients.Children love PLAYTIME's soft-foam playgrounds

University of Iowa Children’s Hospital provides care in more than 40 pediatric specialties with over 140 pediatric physicians and surgeons, and over 500 specially trained pediatric nurses. Due to renovations to one of its buildings, the hospital was forced to close a highly used playground. While they plan to reopen a renovated space in two years, families, patients and members of the health care team all clamored for an alternative in the interim.

“We had many families and staff challenge us, saying, ‘You can’t just close a playground! Play is essential to kids and their families who experience care here,’” says Pollari. “We explored many options and the administration agreed that we had to provide an interim outdoor play space for kids. It’s part of our mission.”

Since the hospital sponsors a soft-foam play area at the nearby shopping center, Coral Ridge Mall, they reached out to the play area’s creator, PLAYTIME, LLC.

“We already knew that kids adore the soft play elements,” says Pollari, adding that the hospital worked with PLAYTIME to create a whole new play space complete with Iowa-themed play pieces.

“We selected pieces that are true to Iowa,” she says. “It’s a nature theme and includes animals that we would find in Iowa such as deer, a bear hugging a log, a raccoon over a log, a frog, a turtle and a big tree.”

The play area is open and, according to Pollari, it is a big hit. “I even see parents out there crawling around on the soft play equipment with their kids.”

In two years, the hospital plans to incorporate the new play pieces into a renovated play court in the original location, combining the previous play structures with the PLAYTIME elements.

“It will be an all-new playground but the space itself will include some of the old pieces and it will be wheelchair accessible,” she says. “Play is a priority for this hospital and for holistic patient- and family-centered health care of children.”