Disney pledges $100M to redecorate children’s hospitals

The same people who design theme park attractions at Walt Disney World and Disneyland will now be working on children’s hospitals as part as a $100 million, five-year project that will begin with Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

Using its “Imagineers," the Walt Disney Company said it will work with medical staff in those hospitals to try and enhance the experience of pediatric hospital patients by incorporating some elements of its theme park design and training into hospital care.

“Disney’s timeless stories have touched hearts and lifted spirits for generations, and we believe they can bring comfort to children and families going through a very difficult time,” Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said in a press release. “Using the powerful combination of our beloved characters and legendary creativity, we’re planning to transform the patient experience in children’s hospitals around the world—creating a personalized and engaging atmosphere that will inspire young patients and ease the stress of a hospital stay.”

Among the concepts Disney wants to bring into hospitals:

  • Incorporating Disney-themed murals, bed linens and patient gowns.
  • Personalizing entertainment in patient rooms.
  • Providing carts with Disney-themed games which can be moved between rooms.
  • Building “pop-up theaters” in hospitals which will play Disney movies and TV shows.
  • Using Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to allow patients to choose which Disney characters are featured on interactive technology during their stay.
  • Providing Disney’s customer experience training for physicians, nurses and hospital staff designed to “foster a less stressful, patient and family-centric hospital experience.”

Being the first participant in this new initiative, Texas Children’s will “add valuable insight” to making this experience work in other hospitals, according to the press release. A spokesperson for Texas Children’s told the Los Angeles Business Journal that it hasn’t decided what parts of Disney’s concepts would be implemented, but it will be done at no cost to the hospital or patients.

Beyond Texas Children’s, Disney said it’s working with a panel of physicians, nurses, hospital administrators and patient advocates to gather some medical expertise on improving the patient experience in children’s hospitals.

“Disney stories and characters provide a shared vocabulary between our young patients and their medical team,” said James Fahner, MD, division chief of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital/Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and a member of the panel. “The magic of Disney restores some childhood innocence during a very difficult time, and also allows us as caregivers to be at our very best. I can’t think of any company that is better suited to lead this type of work than Disney.”