For nearly 2½ years, South Elgin resident Stacy Lazzara spent many hours at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital when her daughter Averie, now 5 years old, was being treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Though it was a rough time, Stacy remembers how the pediatric oncology team helped brighten their days with things like bike rides across the hospital floor and even a visit with a pony.
Wanting to give back to Winfield Hospital, she offered her artistic talent to create kid-friendly murals for the children’s sleep center.
“I just wanted a way to prepay for all the love and kindness our family showed during Averie’s medical journey,” Stacy said. “I liked the idea of using murals to bring a sense of adventure to the children’s overnight stays. My hope was to give each child something to be excited about and to transform the traditional hospital room experience into something more magic.”
Stacy shared her mural ideas with Patti DeJuilio, clinical director of respiratory care at the sleep center.
Since the sleep center has seen a steady increase in pediatric sleep studies every year, DeJuilio was excited about making some rooms more kid-friendly. After a few adjustments, the themes were set: desert camping, enchanted forest and outer space.
“When I saw the first mural, I was moved to tears,” said Patti DeJuilio. “I was so happy for the kids because sometimes they have a hard time falling asleep, they’re scared and I feel like the murals make it much warmer and more welcoming for the kids who come in for a sleep study.”
Stacy hopes the murals will make children spending the night in the hospital feel more welcome and comforted.
“I remember being admitted to Averie and it was always the little things in the hospital – the aquarium, the playroom – different environmental aspects that made her feel safe and a little bit more at home,” she said. “I hope so with these murals for kids staying in the sleep lab.”
A pediatric sleep study evaluates children with behaviors or medical conditions that seriously disrupt sleep.
The volume of pediatric sleep studies at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital is up more than 20% year over year and is expected to continue to increase in the coming years.
The program will be extended to inpatient pediatrics and the pediatric intensive care unit.
For more information about the sleep center, visit www.nm.org/locations/central-dupage-hospital-sleep-health-center.
For more information about Stacy Lazzara’s artwork, visit www.littlemissmurals.com.