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Gundersen opens ‘Under the Sea’ Pediatric Specialties Clinic

Published: Oct. 6, 2020 at 5:37 PM CDT
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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -

Going to the doctor may be a little less intimidating for some kids as a new Pediatric Specialties Clinic aims to transport children who may be under the weather, ‘under the sea.’

Hospitals can be intimidating to adults and even more so children, but now kids coming to Gundersen’s Pediatric Specialties floor will be greeted with a new underwater surprise.

“[We’re] creating the environment that gives [patients] other things to focus on, things to distract them,” said Mindy Ragner, the Pediatric Specialties Clinical manager. “Our waiting room has a fun corral wall with some seating right in the wall, a little cave for those kiddos who feel they need to get away from the bigger picture a little bit, a photo-op wall and there’s digital play on the wall.”

The underwater makeover continues into the floor’s exam rooms.

Planning has been underway to take patients ‘under the sea’ for two years; construction started earlier this year.

Kids helped choose the theme and the color scheme.

“Walking into a place to see healthcare providers with all the anxieties that come with going to the doctor, it’s extremely important to create an environment that kids feel comfortable in,” said Dr. Victor Uko, a section chair for Gundersen Pediatric Specialties.

Pediatric specialists add that lifting patients' spirits is part of the healing process.

Doctor Victor Uko, a pediatrician gastroenterologist and father, says the new theme benefits parents as much as their children.

“Parents would give anything to keep their kids healthy, to give their kids the best care possible and knowing that your child is cared for, thought about, and the environment is designed to meet your child’s needs-- I think that’s any parents wish,” Uko explained.

The floor sees a range in severity of cases and covers a wide variety of specialties including cardiology, asthma, and diabetes.

The Clinic’s manager, RN Mindy Ragner, adds it isn’t just La Crosse children who will benefit from the changes.

“We’ve had patients from as far as Michigan and the Dakotas,” Ragner added. “Generally speaking a good two-three hours for patients to travel one-way to be seen here is not uncommon.”

Donations from the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and the community made the makeover possible.

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