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‘Austin’s Playroom’ announced for WVU Medicine Children Outpatient Center in Wheeling

By Derek Redd, The Intelligencer

WHEELING, W.Va. — Hospital visits can be stressful events, especially for children. WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital wants to alleviate some of that stress for patients and their families when the upcoming WVU Medicine Children’s Outpatient Center opens its doors.

The Mario Lemieux Foundation will help WVU Medicine in that mission. The foundation has chosen the new center for its 25th “Austin’s Playroom,” a place where patients can play and families can relax as they wait for their appointments. The foundation’s support also will be a big help in the process of the overall opening of the center.

“Austin’s Playroom” is named for Austin Lemeiux, the son of the Pittsburgh Penguins legend who was born profoundly premature in 1996 and spent 71 days in a neonatal intensive care unit.

While Mario and Nathalie Lemeiux cared for Austin, their daughters would join them, but would have nothing to engage with.

So the Lemieuxs set out to change that by building “Austin’s Playrooms” in hospitals throughout the region. WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital already has an Austin’s Playroom in its inpatient pediatric center. Hospital officials said Tuesday that such a playroom in the outpatient center would be essential.

Jessica Rine, associate vice president for foundations and community relations for WVU Medicine Wheeling and Reynolds Memorial hospitals, said this will be the first outpatient center to receive a playroom from the Lemieux Foundation.

“They’re going to come in, we’ll give them four walls and they’ll really put together a beautiful space for the kids,” Rine said. “I think this is the first step in kids not being afraid of healthcare. Sometimes it can be scary to go to the doctor, but when you come in, you can come in early enough to check out Austin’s Playroom and play and enjoy your time at the doctor’s office.

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