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Children's Health

Seeing care through their eyes: Building Cohen Children's Medical Center's operating complex

Katelyn, 8, drew a picture of her neurosurgeon, Mark Mittler, MD, as a superhero. Inspired by her vision, the Cohen Children’s team surprised Katelyn by turning her artwork into a doll.

Every person you encounter at Cohen Children’s Medical Center is thinking about kids. Child life specialists play games in our playrooms and mimic medical procedures to alleviate fears of the unknown. Imaging technicians take children into outer space in our NASA-themed Children’s Medical Fund Center for Diagnostic Studies. Siblings of our patients are cared for in Charna’s Kids Club.

Thirty-five years ago, we built an entire hospital specialized in everything children. “We look at children’s health care differently, because children see it differently,” says Charles Schleien, MD, senior vice president and the Philip Lanzkowsky MD Chair of Pediatrics. “Everything we do is with a child in mind. We see it through their eyes.”

Transforming care for sick kids

Our latest project will create eight new operating rooms — four for specialized surgery (one cardiac, one neurological and two orthopedic) and four for general surgery — all dedicated and designed solely for children. The Pediatric Surgical Operating Complex will be in the Blumenfeld Family Pavilion at Cohen Children’s Medical Center — an extension built in 2013 and recently named in honor of the Blumenfeld family’s ongoing commitment to Cohen Children’s Medical Center.

“The Pediatric Surgical Operating Complex was planned from the beginning and left as a shell with the idea that, through philanthropy, we’d be able to complete it,” says Dr. Schleien. “With the cost of medical technologies and other capital projects, it is only through combinations of operational dollars and donor support that major projects like this can come to fruition.”

The Blumenfeld family was recently honored at the dedication of the Blumenfeld Family Pavilion at Cohen Children’s Medical Center.


Presently, surgery takes place in shared operating rooms at neighboring Long Island Jewish Medical Center. This project reduces wait times for pediatric and adult patients and transforms care for the more than 8,000 kids undergoing medical procedures from our Cohen Children’s surgeons each year — patients like Zoe, Teddy and Donovan.

“One of the most important aspects of this project is the recognition that children are not just little adults, and we need specialized facilities to care for them throughout the hospital — in particular, in the operating room,” says Vincent Parnell, MD, surgeon in chief and chief of Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery at Cohen Children’s Medical Center.

quotation mark We are committed to mitigating a child’s anxiety and seeing them fully to create the best experience possible during a scary time.
Charles Schleien, MD

Being treated in an adult space can increase a child’s fear. “We are committed to mitigating a child’s anxiety and seeing them fully to create the best experience possible during a scary time,” says Dr. Schleien.

“The Pediatric Surgical Operating Complex is a priority of our billion-dollar fundraising campaign, Outpacing the Impossible,” says Brian Lally, senior vice president and chief development officer at Northwell Health. “Support from our donors will advance care for children by setting this project into full motion once $50 million is raised — a goal we’ve set to accomplish by the end of 2019.”

Seeing patients and their families fully

The new pediatric operating rooms will have the capacity to house the latest state-of-the-art equipment and technology required to support surgeries today and in the future. Each room will be equipped with multiple, 50-inch, 4K screens and wired for future 8K technology advancements. The video and photo capabilities enhance teaching opportunities, integration among the care team and visuals for surgeons who, in many cases, perform the latest minimally invasive procedures without seeing organs directly but instead through a camera.

“When you take care of children you have two patients — parent and child,” says Dr. Parnell. “When clinically appropriate, a doctor can use video to give a live update through a smartphone app to ease parents’ fears and let them know the surgery is going well.”

Children see us differently because we care for them differently. Dr. Joel “Super Broccoli” Brochstein by 10-year-old James.


Screens, sounds and lighting can be customized to appeal to each child. Before the child goes to sleep for the surgery, they will enter a room of their favorite characters with calming lights and music. With the push of a button, the patient’s profile and imaging appears on the screen, customized now to the preferences of the surgical team. The room transforms back before the child awakens.

“We want patients and their families to feel that, under medical circumstances they would rather avoid, they’ve received the finest pediatric care available anywhere, from an expert medical team, in an environment conducive to high-end care that is centered on the comfort of children,” says Dr. Schleien.

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