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Mario Lemieux Foundation Opens New Austin’s Playroom at Saint Vincent

Monday, December 16, 2019

AHN Saint Vincent, part of the Allegheny Health Network, and the Mario Lemieux Foundation today announced the opening of an Austin’s Playroom at the hospital on December 12 on the hospital’s first floor, adjacent to the Saint Vincent Dining Room.

The playroom provides kids a place to play and relax prior to surgery or when visiting a loved one.

Austin’s Playroom features comfortable child-sized furnishings, as well as games, toys, books, electronics, and child-friendly artwork. Nathalie Lemieux uniquely and personally designs each playroom. Each playroom features a train table, wall-mounted games, large screen TV, and much more, inside a brightly painted room.

In attendance were Nathalie Lemieux, vice president, Mario Lemieux Foundation and chair, Austin’s Playrooms and AHN Saint Vincent President Chris Clark, DO, MHA, construction companies, including E. E. Austin & Son, Bauer Specialty, Beals-McMahon Painting, Rabe Environmental Systems and WAE Balancing, Inc., as well as special invited guests. 

“We are so pleased to open the 38th Austin’s Playroom,” said Nathalie Lemieux. “Our goal is to reach as many children and families as possible, and we are excited to bring an Austin’s Playroom to children and families at AHN Saint Vincent.”

Austin’s Playrooms was established as a result of Nathalie and Mario Lemieux’s personal experience while caring for their infant son, Austin. In 1996, Austin was born profoundly premature and spent 71 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. While they were caring for Austin, there was nothing to engage his sisters, who were both toddlers at the time. It was then Mario and Nathalie realized a need for playrooms and began their plan to establish Austin’s Playrooms.

“Whether a child is a pediatric patient or is at the hospital to visit a loved one who is a patient, it can be a very a scary time, and the stress of waiting can make it even more so,” said Chris Clark, DO, MHA, President of Saint Vincent. “Having an Austin’s Playroom here will ensure that kids and families have a bright and comfortable place to relax and play. This addition will enable us to improve the patient experience, offering a form of distraction that reduces anxiety during a difficult time, whether the child is a patient or a visitor.”