Paediatric patient visits to Guelph General Hospital will be a bit brighter thanks to Smilezone Foundation

November 16 - This week, Guelph General Hospital (GGH) celebrated alongside Smilezone Foundation, the opening of seven Smilezones throughout the Hospital.

Smilezones are bright and cheery spaces that help put smiles on the faces of paediatric patients at the Hospital. The Hospital sees and treats about 14,000 paediatric patients each year across its Paediatrics Unit, Linamar Emergency Department and Fracture Clinic within the Hasenfratz Ambulatory Care Unit.

Julie Brown Hallman and husband Mark Hallman check out one of the many colourful murals installed.

The Smilezone installations are so much more than fun pictures on a wall, explained  Shannon Maier, Clinical Director of Maternal Newboarn & Paediatric Services. They also serve a clinical purpose. “For children who are suffering, the pictures help distract them and there is clinical evidence this can help reduce the child’s perceived level of pain.”

Distracting a child while in hospital has huge benefit says parents who’ve had first-hand experience.  At the event, Julie Brown Hallman and husband Mark Hallman shared their personal story and testimony to the difference these spaces can make. They’ve spent a lot of time between McMaster and GGH with their son Desmond. “It does make a difference when there is something colourful and engaging on the wall,” said Julie. “it’s always helped in every place we’ve been to because it occupies and distracts them.”

The grand opening celebration of GGH’s Smilezones was extra special Scott Bachly, Smilezone’s Co-Founder and Chairmain said.  "On behalf of Smilezone Foundation’s Board of Directors, we are thrilled with the seven new installations at Guelph General Hospital. This has been a very special installation for us as it marks our 100th Smilezone, and we’ve been fortunate to have such incredible partners in the Guelph Storm and LJ Pearson Foundation.”

In fact, it was the first time in Smilezone’s history that two donors came together to fund a Smilezone project. One donor, Larry Pearson, said, “as a multi generational Guelph family it is wonderful to be part of a project that will improve the lives and hospital experiences for young children.”

Representing the the Guelph Storm, owner Rick Gaetz spoke about the Storm’s involvement. "We are extremely pleased to be partnered with the Hospital and Smilezone for this incredible transformation which in a small way will make a hospital visit more pleasant for the children of Guelph and the surrounding areas.” Rick went on to say he hopes this project will be a stimulus for the Storm to do even more at the Hospital.

The project reinforced the importance to the Hospital of community support, said  Suzanne Bone, CEO of The Foundation of Guelph General Hospital. She reminisced on the process that started with the first meeting with Larry and Hospital President and CEO Marianne Walker to talk about the possibility of Smilezones at  the Hospital. Next was the walk through the hospital identifying the spaces to be transformed . “Then, on November 4 the crew arrived and over a single weekend, the spaces were completely tramsformed.” The results were so positive, even the adults were smiling too.