Children’s surgery unit calms with cartoons

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A colorful mural peppered with Disney characters is helping calm young patients at an outpatient surgery center in Fairbanks.

The pediatric area of The Surgery Center of Fairbanks sports jumbo-size decals of SpongeBob SquarePants, Winnie the Pooh, Dora the Explorer, Mickey Mouse and Goofy.

The images are incorporated into a mural that took artist Felicia Johnson two months to paint, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported (http://bit.ly/18iKBSY ). The scene winds through two exam rooms and a procedure area.

Completed in September, the mural has reduced tension among children who come in for tonsillectomies, ear surgeries or other procedures, according to staff members.

“Surgery can be stressful for anyone,” said administrator Dawn Ferguson. “It definitely makes it a more comfortable environment.”

Dr. Dave Flory, an anesthesiologist and the center’s medical director, said he routinely provided sedatives to frightened patients. Children now are often preoccupied by the castles and cartoon characters.

“Nurses are telling them about finding Mickey,” Flory said. “They feel like they’re going to Disneyland. The tears stop.”

The cartoons are jumbo-size decals from Disney. Artist Johnson said she tried to blend them into an elaborate background of castles, forests and oceans.

“I love bright colors — I had so much fun,” Johnson said.

The only original character is Murphy the Moose. Visitors receive a small stuffed moose as a souvenir.

The mural’s cost was “a lot of money,” said Dr. Mark Wade, the center president, without giving specifics.

“Kids love it — that’s what we wanted,” Wade, said. “Their eyes brighten up. It takes the fear right out of them.”

The cost, Flory said, is “worth every penny.”

“Really, how can you put a price on a little kid not being afraid?” Flory said.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

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