Big changes will make it easier on young M.D. Anderson Cancer Center patients


A remodeled and expanded pediatric floor now has a kitchen, a school, movie rooms for teens, and quiet rooms for parents. And it looks less like a hospital and more like a luxury hotel.

Jackson has spent hours sitting in a chair getting chemotherapy. Now this is where kids will get chemotherapy.

"There's plenty of room for the parents, which is very important because we have to be here with the children the whole time and sometimes we come for a long stretch with our backpacks and our lunch bags," Jackson's mom, Jennifer Funderburk.

She knows from experience. Jackson, now 6, has been treated there for leukemia. And when M.D. Anderson expanded its children's cancer floor, parents redesigned it. Now LED lights brighten every child's room.

"If they're in a blue mood, they can make their room blue. If they're in a great mood, they can make it yellow," said Funderburk.

Gone are the primary colors. Now the rooms are elegant and they work for toddlers to teens. The parents are especially proud of the three-level bed table.

"They can eat, they can store their toys, whatever they need, it's right here and it's not rolling all over the place," Funderburk showed us.

They added niches in the bathrooms for shampoo, soap and towels. The check-in desk looks like a luxury hotel.

Teenaged patients have their own hangout area with big chairs where they can curl up for a chat or a movie.

Parents have a kitchen in the hospital and quiet rooms where they can work.

"This really does become your home so the more you can make it your own, the better," Funderburk said.

Jackson is in remission and doing well. And she hopes the changes the family advisory council made to M.D. Anderson's pediatric floor will make the journey a little easier for the children and families to follow.

The floor will be ready for young patients in two weeks.

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