A community for kids

March 1, 2005
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Maria Fareri Children's Hospital Valhalla, New York

How often does one see a family tragedy transformed into a project aimed at uplifting the lives of thousands of children and their families? In Valhalla, New York (Westchester County), just such a project opened its doors last year. The Maria Fareri Children's Hospital at Westchester Medical Center has become a touchstone—not only of healthcare design for children, but also of wide-ranging community support, generosity, and love of children. More than 20,000 local-area residents—including some famous people and about 100 local schools—donated their time and talents, along with cash contributions and special memorabilia totaling upwards of $40 million, to realize the vision of Maria's parents, who lost their daughter to a catastrophic rabies infection in 1995.

Recognizing that an excellent clinical staff was functioning in a substandard county hospital, John and Brenda Fareri envisioned a family-centered children's hospital offering the most supportive environment possible for people experiencing the direst of circumstances. From its “fantasyland” exterior to its unique displays and collections within, the hospital named after their daughter Maria is the result of that vision. What follows is a guided tour of the highlights of Maria Fareri Children's Hospital by Bruce King Komiske, FACHE, a hospital administrator who oversaw this unique community development effort for seven years. Komiske has pursued his expertise in healing environments by opening five new hospitals altogether during his career, and he is currently working on his sixth major project—a children's, women's, and cancer hospital at the University of California, San Francisco.

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