New Emergency Department youth waiting area provides comfort to young visitors and furthers humanitarian legacy of local teen

Children's activities and wall displays in the new Chelsey Ebert youth waiting area.

October 18, 2019

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – A new youth-friendly waiting area offers calming activities for the smallest visitors of the PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center Emergency Department. The entertainment zone provides distraction and comfort to youth of all ages—from toddlers to teens—amidst the frightening Emergency Department setting as they or a loved one wait for care.   

In partnership with the PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center Foundation, the waiting area renovation and furnishings were generously made possible by the Chelsey Ebert Trust. Chelsey was a vibrant, compassionate individual who passed away from a rare form of cancer in December 2007 at the age of fifteen. She and her father, Jay Ebert, founded the Chelsey Ebert Trust to carry forward her strong desire to help others and make a difference in our community.

 “Our hope was to put a smile on kids’ faces and take away their stress and pain, even if just for a few minutes,” Mr. Ebert said. “It’s also about lightening the burden of parents.”    

The hospital environment was one that Chelsey and her family knew all too well. Born with a congenital heart defect and diagnosed with osteosarcoma cancer seven months prior to her passing, Chelsey was often a patient at Seattle Children’s Hospital during her lifetime. “We know how much it meant to our family to have kid-centered activities for Chelsey and her siblings during those difficult times,” her father explained. “If we can give that experience to just one Whatcom County family, it’s worth it.”Chelsey Ebert

Emergency/Trauma Services Director Susie Johnson reported that the youth-friendly space has been used frequently since it was completed in early September. “We want to provide the best experience possible for children and families, and this special waiting area undoubtedly lifts their spirits when they’re in need of emergent care,” she shared. “It removes kids from the unfamiliar and scary environment that surrounds them and lets them just be kids again.”

The waiting area includes wall-based play equipment, child-sized chairs and tables, coloring materials and a television to entertain youth of all ages. Thanks to the PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center Foundation’s Healing through Art program, it also features an eye-catching mural entitled “Tree of Life” by Bellingham artist Mary Ennes Davis that invites visitors to seek and find hidden items. 

In addition, Chelsey’s Ferndale High School basketball jersey, retired #44, hangs between wooden wall hangings that read “Always believe you can” and “Together Everyone Achieves More.” Her love of the camaraderie of sports, commitment to bringing out the best in others and positive outlook were central themes of the room’s design.

The entertainment zone denotes the culminating project of the Chelsey Ebert Trust. After nearly 12 years of supporting scholarships, special projects, community programs and nonprofit organizations, it was time to end on a high note, her father reported.

“The Chelsey Ebert Trust has truly been made possible by the ‘village’ of local support that has surrounded us for over a decade. It has been an honor to carry forward everything she epitomized to better our community,” Ebert said. “The process of creating the children’s waiting room area was healing for our entire family. It represents one final way that Chelsey continues to make a difference. In this space, her legacy lives on.”

 

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About PeaceHealth: Based in Vancouver, Wash., PeaceHealth is a not-for-profit Catholic health system offering care to communities in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. In 1890, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace founded what has become PeaceHealth. PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center provides quality care for northwest Washington with its full-service 253-bed hospital and PeaceHealth Medical Group clinics. Key services in Bellingham include comprehensive cardiology, oncology, orthopedic and rehabilitation services and a joint venture outpatient imaging service. Visit us online at peacehealth.org

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