Shaare Zedek’s Wilf Children’s Hospital was designed with the understanding that it would serve as even more than a place of medical healing, but as a truly comprehensive center of caring for every need of a child who requires treatment in a hospital setting.  This understanding compelled our designers to include significant space for educational and recreational activities and, most notably, the Adolescents Mannon Kaplan LA Family visitRecreation Room, which was donated by Mannon Kaplan and Family (Studio City, CA). It can be found on the Jack and Gitta Nagel Family Pediatric Inpatient Pavilion (7th Floor) of the Children’s Hospital.

The Kaplan Family Rec Room is the physical realization of a philosophy that says comprehensive medicine is as much about caring for a child’s emotional state as his or her physical one. For all too many children, hospital stays can be lengthy, sometimes extending for weeks or even months.  The Rec Room allows children an escape from the tough reality of hospitalization and to engage in a world of “release” — including to the internet, movies or electronic games.

The staff of teachers and volunteers from the Lincoln David Abraham Paediatric Educational Institute are available at all times to help with any need. But younger patients are also given the privacy they need and deserve to relax on their own terms and enjoy a few minutes or hours of relaxation.

To best understand the importance of the room we went and spoke with a young man named Moshe, for whom Shaare Zedek has nearly become a second home. Suffering from a rare blood disorder that requires very regular hospital visits, the now 14-year-old has been forced to achieve a level of maturity and patience well beyond his years. He is deeply familiar with all the medical nuances of his condition and long ago mastered the regimen of different drugs, infusions and tests. 

Yet despite his condition, he is a teenager, and welcomes the chance to enjoy the Rec Room and surf the internet, watch movies and play online games during his often extended stays in the hospital. That he is able to remain occupied in a safe and supportive environment with trained professionals available nearby, whatever the need, allows his parents, who accompany him to every hospital visit, to also relax, and even to leave for a few hours knowing that Moshe is being well cared for.

 Nearby to Moshe sits 16-year-old Yasmin, whose congenital endocrine disease brings her to Shaare Zedek for regular check-ups. She is uses the internet to watch the latest music videos, wearing her own stylish earphones. She also takes regular breaks to confer with the teaching staff who help her to keep up with her class when she is away from school for prolonged periods of time.

This is a small glimpse into the daily activities of this room, which offers escape and relaxation in a setting all too often defined by pain and illness. We take great pride in offering these teens an added degree of caring, and thank Mannon Kaplan and his family for their partnership in making it possible.