By Jennifer L. Warren
POUGHKEEPSIE – The two, large, colorful murals flanking speakers at last Tuesday’s Westchester Medical Health Network (WMCHealth) ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony for the new Maria Fareri Children’s Healthcare Services inpatient pediatrics unit at the hospital in many ways encapsulated the potent moment.
To the left, one contained images of smiling children: one playing on a swing, another was feeding animals; while an adult was planting seeds in the ground. Meanwhile, the catchy painting to the right featured children picking apples and pumpkins in a field while a horse in a nearby crimson-hued barn looked on. Both visuals carried a “Farming” theme, one that symbolizes the deep agricultural history in the Mid-Hudson region and will permeate throughout the new unit, one dubbed a “neighborhood,” resonating with familial and healing characteristics similar to those healing spaces found at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.
Now, thanks to this latest expansion and commitment to pediatric care right here in the Hudson Valley, children and their families will no longer have to travel to the Valhalla Fareri site; rather they can find high quality, specialized and comfortable care nearby to their homes. Officially opening its doors at the end of 2022, the “Farm-themed Neighborhood” contains 10 private rooms (double its original amount) with private bathrooms, showers, televisions allowing for remote, immediate doctor communication, as well as critical accommodations (including a pull-out sofa bed) for children’s caregivers. A brand new infusion center, along with warm-welcoming spaces for art and music therapy as well as healing activities can also be found in the authentic pediatric neighborhood that was the result of dedicated people from various realms working together to make this direly needed, Dutchess County-based dream medical spot for children and their families a reality.
“Today’s event is a culmination of all of us really working to change the pediatric care in the Mid-Hudson area, affirmed Michael D. Israel, President and CEO of WMCHealth, a part of Westchester Medical Center. “Not only does this project represent the opening of a 10 bed pediatric unit, but we are also expanding the level of all pediatric care we are now able to provide here.”
In addition to several WMCHealth staff being on hand, representatives of, as well as many political dignitaries themselves, came out to view the ribbon cutting as well as tour the new pediatric unit. One was Dutchess County Executive, Bill O’Neill, who during his political tenure has witnessed the unwavering commitment by so many- particularly another of the event’s speakers, Michael Gewitz, MD and Senior Vice President Clinical Operations WMCHealth- to this pivotal piece of expanding health care in the area.
“As a Dutchess County native, who grew up in Hyde Park, and had two brothers and sisters born right here in this hospital, this event is very personal,” said O’Neil.
Another potent personal connection could be seen at one of the reception’s tables, filled with members of the Pultz family of Beacon, who saw firsthand the united lifesaving merits places such as Mid-Hudson Regional Hospital and Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital can provide. Last June, their young son, Chase, also in attendance, had a serious sinus infection that spread to his brain, requiring an immediate diagnosis as well as the action of several critical surgeries. Thanks to the close availability as well as diligent, rapid and highly competent response of both of these medical facilities and staffs, Chase, after being in the hospital for a month, is now on the mend, back in school and able to thrive and enjoy life. All smiles Tuesday, he was one of the participants bestowed with the honor of cutting the ribbon to the new facility (“neighborhood”) that now has the unlimited potential to perform nearby, life-changing magic on countless other local children, returning normalcy and hope to their families.
“Chase is a whole new boy now; he is our miracle child,” said his mother, Jeanine Geiser, who provided an emotional account of the hospitals’ priceless efforts during that extremely challenging time. “We are so forever grateful to Mid-Hudson Regional who diagnosed him and got him the care he needed at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital which truly saved his life.”