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Walt Disney Co. commits more than $100M to bring comfort to children and their families in hospitals

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Robert A. Iger, chairman and chief executive officer of the Walt Disney Co., Wendesday announced an innovative plan to dedicate more than $100 million in company resources, including cash, products and services, to reinvent the patient and family experience in children’s hospitals across the globe.

This initiative will roll out over five years, expanding the company’s rich legacy of supporting children’s hospitals, which dates back to Walt Disney.

“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,” said Mr. Iger. “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.”

Leveraging its renowned “Imagineers”—the global experts in theme park and family entertainment design—the company plans to introduce a rich array of distinctly “Disney” elements into children’s hospitals. Drawing on their decades of creativity, and working with patient care experts, Imagineers will use some of the world’s most iconic characters and stories to weave together many different touchpoints and experiences creating a supportive atmosphere that is personal, warm and entertaining for patients and families during their time at the hospital.

Concepts for these elements include:

- A new RFID-based system allowing patients to customize their hospital visit by choosing their favorite Disney stories and characters, which will surround them during their stay. The system will also unlock special elements to further personalize and enhance the experience, such as “enchanted” artwork that comes alive.

- Themed treatment and patient rooms featuring interactive murals of Disney stories, bed linens and gowns featuring each child’s favorite characters, and personalized in-room entertainment. Additionally, well stocked mobile “play carts” will include Disney-themed games and activities to give families something to do together to help alleviate stress and boredom.

- Disney first-run movies and television shows, available both in-room and in themed pop-up movie theaters in the hospital, along with other Disney entertainment options.

- Disney customer-experience training for doctors, nurses and staff. The renowned Disney Institute, a part of the Walt Disney Co. that provides professional development training focused on leadership, employee engagement and high-quality service, will create a customized program for health care professionals designed to foster a less stressful, patient and family-centric hospital experience. The first hospital to work with Disney in this comprehensive new approach is Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. As the largest children’s hospital in the United States, recognized as a national leader in pediatric health, Texas Children’s will add valuable insight in collaboration with Disney on these and other new experiences.

“We are honored to be the inaugural hospital to collaborate with Disney on this exciting patient-focused initiative,” said Mark A. Wallace, President and CEO of Texas Children’s Hospital. “Patient care is at the center of our mission, and in addition to providing the highest-quality medical care to children, we strive to make the hospital experience as enjoyable and stress-free as possible for every patient and their family. We are looking forward to working with Disney to enhance our efforts in this area.”

Disney is working with a panel of medical experts, including doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, parents and child life professionals from around the world, to advise on the best ways Disney can help hospitals create a more personalized and comforting experience for patients and families.

“Disney stories and characters provide a shared vocabulary between our young patients and their medical team,” said Dr. James B Fahner, M.D., F.A.A.P Division Chief, Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Helen Devos Children’s Hospital/Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and a member of the panel working with Disney on this initiative. “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.”

The company is also expanding its work with children’s wish-granting organizations. In 2017, the Walt Disney Co., through all its affiliated brands, granted more than 10,000 wishes for children facing critical illnesses around the world. Since Disney granted its first wish request in the early 1980s, it has fulfilled more than 120,000 wishes.

This new initiative to reimagine the children’s hospital experience is part of the company’s “Team of Heroes” community outreach and philanthropy efforts. The Walt Disney Co. is dedicated to delivering comfort, happiness and inspiration for families around the world and recognizes it takes a team to make a significant impact.

ABC News is a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Co.

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