For over 15 years, the Aquarium of the Pacific has brought the patients of MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach happiness and smiles. Shortly after the Aquarium opened, they reached out to Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital to partner to support the pediatric patients.
The Aquarium of the Pacific provides educational programs for school-age children to teach them about the ocean and marine animals. Throughout the years, the Aquarium would send an employee and a volunteer to bring these educational programs to life in the hospital, showing patients the wonders of the ocean. Before the outbreak of COVID-19, the Aquarium would come twice a month.
Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Aquarium of the Pacific still wanted to engage safely - they knew patients needed it now more than ever. They continued the Aquarium Live educational program, which started in 2011. Under this program, the Aquarium of the Pacific livestreams educational programs directly to the patients of the hospital every week, giving the children the ability to have a live look at some of their favorite animal exhibits and continue to learn while in the hospital. They can call, text, or email the Aquarium during the show to ask questions and interact with the educators.
The Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Program at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital sets up all the events for the pediatric patients to enjoy, such as the “Beach Day Carnival” and “Santa’s Workshop.” Before COVID-19, the Aquarium sent employees and volunteers to do in person marine learning and fun activities and gifts. Once it’s safe to do so, Miller Children’s knows the Aquarium of the Pacific will be the first back at the table.
The Aquarium also has been routinely bringing the “Aquarium on Wheels” to Miller Children’s & Women’s, allowing patients to experience the joy of the touch tidepools, much like they would experience at the Aquarium itself. Miller Children’s & Women’s sponsors many events that the Aquarium of the Pacific hosts as well. This year, Miller Children’s & Women’s have sponsored the Aquarium’s Festival of Human Abilities and International Children’s Festival.
“The partnership we have with the Aquarium of the Pacific has been nothing short of amazing,” says Rita Goshert, director, Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Program, MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach. “Not only have they been wonderful to work with, but you can tell their hearts are in it for our patients. You can tell that they sincerely want to brighten their days and help soothe the anxieties that some of them may have by helping them escape the hospital setting for a little bit.”