Being in the hospital can be a stressful experience for teens and their families, especially for teenagers dealing with a chronic illness like cystic fibrosis (CF), who often have long-term hospital stays. Teenagers receiving treatment may need a break from reality to relax and be themselves. This break can take place in many forms, such as reaching out to some friends on social media, playing video games or just having a space of their own.
For this reason, MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach teamed up with Claire’s Place Foundation, a non-profit organization providing support to children and families affected by CF, and Zappos© for Good to renovate the teen lounge in the Miller West Unit/Pediatric Pulmonary Center – a wing in the hospital dedicated to treating children and teens with pulmonary conditions, like CF. Claire’s Place Foundation Founder Claire Wineland was very familiar with the unit and the teen lounge area. She was treated at Miller Children’s & Women’s for CF from 4-years-old until she was 21.
Cystic fibrosis is a progressive genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and over time limits one’s ability to breathe. This disease affects the way the body produces mucus. Instead of mucus being thin, CF causes it to become thick and glue-like, which blocks tubes, ducts and eventually airways throughout the body. The mucus collects germs that cause infection and may lead to serve lung damage.
Claire didn’t let her disease slow her down one bit. Throughout her life she accomplished many things, such as raising awareness for people living with CF through her foundation, social media and becoming a TEDx speaker. She also inspired the first major film, Five Feet Apart, to feature people living with CF. Claire passed away in September 2018.
Today, her legacy is carried on by her foundation, Claire’s Place, providing grants to families affected by CF, offering both emotional and financial support to families affected by CF.
The care Claire received during her time as a patient played a huge role in the foundation wanting to help renovate the teen lounge.
“Miller Children’s & Women’s became a second home for us,” says Claire’s Place Foundation Executive Director Melissa Yeager and Claire’s mom. “We spent a lot of time at the hospital, so everyone from the nurses to child life specialists became family to us.”
The foundation received philanthropic support from Zappos© for Good to renovate the lounge at Miller Children’s & Women’s, but this isn’t the first time the two have partnered. Claire’s Place and Zappos also helped redesign a playroom for a hospital in Las Vegas. In honor of Claire, they’ve made it a mission to help to redesign teen lounges and playrooms in hospitals throughout the country.
The foundation enlisted Designer Rozalynn Woods to transform the space into a place where teen patients can be themselves and get their minds off treatment. A mural covering one of the walls was created by Artist Maribeth McFaul to help teens spending time in the lounge feel more comfortable. The lounge gives teens a private place to read, play video games and connect with friends by using two of the computers donated by Claire’s Place Foundation supporters as a part of the renovation.
“We can’t thank the Miller Children’s & Women’s team enough for their decades of caring for Claire,” says Melissa. “This is our way of thanking them. They inspired us to provide more resources for teenagers going through treatments and for the team.”