St. Jude Opens 45K Sq Ft Family Commons

Family Commons pop of art studio

The Pop of Art studio enables patients and siblings to continue creative pursuits while receiving care at St. Jude.  

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® and AbbVie, a research-based global biopharmaceutical company, today unveiled the multimillion-dollar Family Commons, the first-ever treatment-and-clinical-staff-free floor at the hospital and research institution offering patients and families a home-like space to find comfort and respite, exercise their minds and fuel their imaginations in between clinic appointments.

The 45,000-square-foot haven on the second floor of the St. Jude Patient Care Center was funded by AbbVie as part of a historic $50 million commitment in 2018. AbbVie’s donation enabled the design, construction and program operations of Family Commons. Additionally, the donation has supported patient families with non-clinical services, such as music therapy and school programming, that will continue in Family Commons.

“Treatments for childhood cancer and other catastrophic diseases can take years,” said James R. Downing, M.D., St. Jude president and CEO. “Family Commons will help ease this journey, offering a community respite space for patients and their families during long days at the hospital. The first-of-its-kind floor is designed to provide a full suite of amenities to answer everything a family wants-whether it’s quiet time, play time or the many needs that fall in between.”

Family Commons, which will open to patients on February 7, 2023, features:

  • New pre-K to high school classroom spaces, including a science lab and library, for the St. Jude School Program by Chili’s;
  • Reading alcoves, resting nooks, recording studio and maker space;
  • Art room with a balloon-like ceiling that illuminates in different colors;
  • Indoor and outdoor play areas;
  • Private rooms for families to rest or relax in between appointments at the hospital;
  • Cafe with coffee and snacks for patient families to reconnect and recharge;
  • Stained-glass-adorned sacred space offering a quiet place for reflection, prayer and meditation;
  • Centralized patient and housing services to meet the unique needs of families;
  • Event space for meetings of the patient and family advisory council, parent classes; and
  • Parent-to-parent mentor meeting space, tech support center, and childcare.

“As a company that strives to have a remarkable impact on patients’ lives, we are proud to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through the creation of the new Family Commons, a place where patient families can benefit from the psychological, spiritual, developmental and social support services provided by St. Jude,” said Tracie Haas, senior vice president, Corporate Responsibility, Brand and Communications, AbbVie. “Through AbbVie’s donation, the thoughtfully-designed Family Commons provides patients and families at St. Jude with a home-like atmosphere and sense of comfort during one of the most difficult times in their lives.”

The Family Commons project was conceptualized by Dr. Downing, St. Jude clinical care providers and the institution’s Patient Family Advisory Council members who said families needed a place to relax and spend private time together in a space of their own between clinical appointments. The clinical care team presented the idea to hospital leadership as an extension of the holistic care provided by the institution. Working with IDEO, a global design-thinking firm, the hospital planned an innovative space that would answer these specific needs and more. The final design team included ANF Architects, ICrave, and Evans Taylor Foster Childress Architects.

Marlo Thomas, National Outreach Director and daughter of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas, was intimately involved in the interior design, personally selecting everything from paint colors, floor designs, light fixtures, carpeting, upholstery and more.

“When my father built St. Jude, his mission first was to defeat the catastrophic childhood diseases that were invading the bodies of these children. But he also wanted to treat the whole child and care for the whole family. That meant they needed a place of comfort and normalcy – a home-like place where they could bond and draw comfort from each other,” Thomas said. “Each design decision we made had patient comfort – whether it was physical or emotional – top of mind. The thoughtful, creative design of Family Commons demonstrates the holistic care St. Jude provides.”

“We are incredibly grateful to everyone on the AbbVie team for their extraordinary donation that demonstrates their commitment to helping families thrive,” said Richard C. Shadyac Jr., president and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “We are thrilled to see this plan become a reality as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of St. Jude.”

Because of generous donors and partners like AbbVie, families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food so they can focus on helping their child live.

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