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Central HEPA-filtered air system allows pediatric bone marrow transplant patients to play at renovated Levine Children’s Hospital

Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s Hospital celebrated in September the grand opening of its newly expanded and renovated Bone Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapies unit. The program, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, is among the few worldwide that offer transplant and cellular therapies to pediatric patients in a setting that provides for optimal physical and emotional healing. Transplant and cellular therapies include autologous (self-donated) and allogeneic (donor) transplants for children, as well as treatment of non-cancerous disorders; such as bone marrow failure, immunodeficiencies and blood diseases such as sickle cell disease.

Patients can get out of their rooms and head to the purple playroom.

The new facility means that exceptional care, close to home, is now available for even more families in the southeast region. By allowing families to remain close to where they live, families can eliminate the added expenses and worries that travel with a sick child can bring. Over the past years, the program has also expanded the size and reputation of its care team, there is now a robust multi-disciplinary group of nationally recognized pediatric experts trained to deliver care in a family-centered setting. The team, comprised of physicians, physician assistants, advanced care practitioners, nurses, transplant coordinators, social workers, child life specialists, dieticians, teachers, and psychologists, has achieved survival rates that rank among the top 10 in the country.

“This unit is a place where we are prepared to treat the sickest children,” said Philip Roehrs, MD, medical director of the pediatric transplant and cellular therapies program at Levine Children’s Hospital. “This is where they will receive not only the best medical care, but the most compassionate and holistic care.”

The eight-bed unit, designed with input from both families and medical providers, is the most effective setting for patients needing life-saving treatments to heal. Procedures done in this unit can often leave patients’ immune systems compromised, such as in the case of a blood and marrow transplant (BMT). In a traditional hospital setting, a BMT procedure keeps patients confined to their rooms for weeks at a time to avoid any potential exposure to germs.

The new unit at Levine Children’s Hospital solves this problem through a centralized HEPA-filtered air system that flows throughout the entire unit, including an innovative play area. This highly specialized air filtration system clears out threatening germs and allows for the patient to leave their room and walk throughout the unit, including the play area. This change allows a sense of normalcy for patients and aids the healing process; physically, mentally and emotionally.

The eight-bed unit was designed with input from families.

The program’s expansion was made possible by funds raised during the 2017 and 2018 Levine Children’s Gala; including significant support from Sandra and Leon Levine and their family – Amy and Alfred Dawson, Lori and Eric Sklut, and Julie and Howard Levine – as well as Linda and Rick Hendrick. In recognition of this support, the unit will be known as “Sandra and Leon’s Place,” featuring a unique play area that honors the Hendrick family.

“Thanks to the generosity of everyone who helped fund this specialized unit, we now have a space for patients to be able to leave their rooms to help them heal,” says Jeffrey Huo, MD, PhD, pediatric hematologist-oncologist at Levine Children’s Hospital. “They can play. They can walk. They can wander. They can be a kid. It helps them get through that critical time period.”