For young patients battling cancer, the hospital becomes a second home during treatment. Now, SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Hospital is planning big changes to make families’ stays more comfortable.
Elsa Wiemerslage knows what it’s like to spend months at the inpatient cancer unit.
“You just think it would never happen to you, then — it hits you,” said Elsa’s father, Kevin.
The 6-year-old was diagnosed with a form of leukemia last year, and lived more than 100 days in the unit during chemotherapy treatments and and a bone marrow transplant. Located on the fourth floor, the cancer unit is called “4 North.”
“We want to make it a more homelike environment, so patients can be here anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple months at a time,” said Michelle Romano, director of medical surgical oncology and transplant services at Cardinal Glennon.
Romano said “4 North” is part of of the original hospital building, constructed in 1956, and ready for significant renovations. Those upgrades are projected to cost $7 million, and construction begins this fall.
- Larger and more modern patient rooms, with more space for visiting families and better sleeping accommodations so two parents can stay together with their child
- Private bathrooms and shower facilities in each patient room (currently, all patients on 4 North share one shower facility)
- A larger and updated playroom for patients on the floor
- Improved nursing station for the inpatient cancer unit staff
Romano said these improvements will make patients’ stays more comfortable, and -- with larger rooms and sleeping spaces -- keep families together during treatment.
“It keeps them together and it also supports the emotional as well as the physical healing of the patient,” she said. You don’t want them to separate just because we don't have the space available.”
“It’s important to get both parents here as much as you can,” added Kevin Wiemerslage.
His daughter, Elsa, is doing much better. Her little brother, Eli, was born during her treatments last year and was a perfect match for a bone marrow transplant through his cord blood. Elsa has moved out of 4 North and only visits the hospital’s outpatient cancer center during her recovery.