Mass marks closing of pediatric unit

CAMDEN — On Thursday, June 25, a Mass of thanksgiving was held in the Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center here in celebration of the 59 years of service and blessings provided by the hospital’s nine-bed pediatric unit, which closed July 1.

“Because of the advances in the treatment of children, especially with vaccines, better care during pregnancies and the ongoing management of conditions like allergies and asthma, children today are healthier than ever,” said Wendy Marano, spokeswoman for the Lourdes Health System. “As a result, we have found that children very seldom need to be hospitalized and are best managed on an outpatient basis.”

Although Lourdes will no longer house an inpatient pediatric unit, the hospital will continue to provide pediatric care through the Emergency Room that has a special observation area for children, the newborn nursery and its 25-bed Level III Intensive Care Nursery.

Lourdes will continue to focus outpatient pediatric services through its Osborn Family Health Center which provided nearly 20,000 well-baby, routine immunizations and ongoing primary visits in 2008 alone.

Children that do need admission will be transferred to nearby Cooper University Hospital that has a 32-bed state-designated pediatrics unit.

“Although we are closing our inpatient pediatric unit to focus on outpatient wellness and prevention services, we are most grateful for the care and dedication of the staff of our pediatrics unit and their long-term commitment to the hospital and the community,” said Marano.

The moving Mass expressed liturgically how the unit had embodied Jesus’ claim to let the little children come unto him, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as them. In a tearful farewell ceremony, medical staff, families of sick children, and general well-wishers reflected on the good works the unit had achieved over the past six decades.

Members of the pediatric unit were also provided with medals as mementos of their time and efforts spent there. The dual-sided medals pictured Our Lady of Lourdes and Sts. Francis and Clare of Assisi, patrons of the Franciscan heritage of the hospital.

After the Mass, an apple was hung on the lobby’s Tree of Life to mark the occasion.

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