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St. Jude opens first treatment, staff free floor dedicated to leisure

According to St. Jude, the area allows the hospital to further commit to its goal of helping their patients and families through the hardships of battling cancer.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — St. Jude Children's Research Hospital opened its new Family Commons space Monday, Jan. 23, finding yet another way to provide relief for families and patients whose lives are interrupted by cancer. 

The new addition is the size of a football field, St. Jude said. The 45,000 square foot space gives patients and their families a space dedicated to fun and leisure, completely separate from the hospital. 

“How could we create a space that would be away from the hospital," Marlo Thomas, St. Jude board member and National Outreach Director at St. Jude, said she and a group of colleagues asked when thinking of how they could further assist families through their journey to fighting cancer.  

The family commons area is the hospital's first treatment and staff-free floor, and St. Jude said the area was designed to give a "home-like" atmosphere.

Patients and families will have access to music rooms, office space and more.

The space will also be used for the hospital's on-campus school program, which allows students to meet with their teachers and stay caught up with class learning curriculum and activities that patients would otherwise miss because of the frequent treatment that is needed to treat various cancers.

"You know, no medicine rooms, no examination rooms, no laboratory, no complicated machinery. Just a place to come and laugh and play and learn and grow and be away from, you know, having a sick tummy having a headache and losing your hair and all the challenges a child must go through and mom and dad experience it right alongside with them. This is to get away from all that,” Thomas said. 

Ultimately, the family commons area is space dedicated to restoration of peace. 

“Little girls and boys and their moms and dads could draw comfort in their most desperate hour. A place of love and bonding," Thomas said. 

According to St. Jude, the area allows the hospital to further commit to its goal of helping their patients and families through the struggles and impact cancer has on a family's life.

“Just the most amazing space I have ever walked through, and one I think that will lessen the burden that our families go through as they go through that treatment journey to be cured of cancer. We are really incredibly proud of this space,” President and CEO James R. Downing said. 

St. Jude's CEO of ALSAC, Richard C. Shadyac, said families can also use the space to learn on each other, as they all know the hardship of battling cancer. 

“We’ve created a beautiful space where our families can just come together and just be themselves relax engage in activities if they choose to and be with each other and find comfort with each other. But mostly, they can get away from clinical settings and let their hair down and have a wonderful time during this period of time where their lives are turned upside down.”

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