Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital Patients Get the Summer Camp Spirit Year-Round with the Hole in the Wall Gang

July 2, 2015 03:39 PM
Michael Dauphin, Hospital Outreach Program regional manager, NJ, The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, helps five-year-old, Matthew Saunders, Pompton Lakes, NJ create a fun T-shirt with a favorite saying.

At the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center, a very special visit is made twice a week by The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp as a part of their Hospital Outreach Program (HOP).  Through one-on-one interactions and group activities, HOP brings the Hole in the Wall Gang’s Camp summer programming and spirit to HackensackUMC’s pediatrics, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Reuten Clinic, and Hemotology/Oncology inpatient units. Whether working bedside, in playrooms or outpatient clinics, the interactions and activities with children and families include arts and crafts projects, and interactive games specifically adapted for use in the medical setting, as well as other camp-inspired programming and events.

“Our patients just beam when The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp visits.  They bring the camp enthusiasm, fun projects and games to our patients so they forget about treatment for a while.  We are so proud to have partnered with them throughout our pediatric departments,” said Ellen Goldring, section chief, Child Life/Creative Arts Therapy at HackensackUMC. 

 “I’m so lucky that they [Hole in the Wall] are here doing projects with us.  It makes it easier to fight this battle every day.  I really appreciate everything that they do.  It really makes me feel special,” said Mary Hannouch, patient, Saddle Brook, NJ. 

The Hospital Outreach Program director is a certified child life specialist with a specialty in hematology/oncology.  NJ HOP Regional Manager, Mike Dauphin, andother specially-trained Hospital Outreach specialists share in the commitment of delivering the camp magic and joy to the bedside.  The camp staff works within the hospital with the child life team to visit with pediatric patients and bring games, activities, arts and crafts, and their energetic spirit. 

“The child life team, and in fact everyone, at HackensackUMC have just been such great partners to us as we bring Camp fun, friendship and laughter to the children in their care,” said Mary Naumec, Director, Hospital Outreach, The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. “We are grateful for their support and the opportunity to work so closely with the team here as we expanded our programming into New Jersey.”

The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp was founded in 1988 by famous actor, Paul Newman with one simple goal: that every child, no matter their illness, could experience the transformational spirit and friendships that go hand-in-hand with camp.  It was his dream that camp, with its expert medical care, would provide seriously ill children with a fun-filled experience defined by compassion, laughter and acceptance.

The camp has a kid-sized old west setting inspired by “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” and is filled with traditional summer camp programs adapted so that children with physical and medical limitations could participate. The accessibility of the programs along with a significant, yet unobtrusive, medical presence allows campers to embrace possibilities and safely challenge perceived limitations. Among other children facing similar challenges, campers can find a community all their own.

In 2002, one counselor, armed with paints and craft projects, ventured into a Connecticut hospital and proved that the fun and friendship experienced at camp were portable. That is how the Hospital Outreach Program began and today more than 25 full-time specialists are serving more than 35 locations throughout the Northeast annually.  HackensackUMC was among the first New Jersey hospitals to benefit from the program and the New Jersey headquarters is located right in Hackensack, NJ. 

Photo Caption:

Michael Dauphin, Hospital Outreach Program regional manager, NJ, The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, helps five-year-old, Matthew Saunders, Pompton Lakes, NJ create a fun T-shirt with a favorite saying. 

About Hackensack University Medical Center

HackensackUMC, a nonprofit teaching and research hospital located in Bergen County, NJ, is the largest provider of inpatient and outpatient services in the state. Founded in 1888 as the county’s first hospital, it is the flagship hospital of Hackensack University Health Network, one of the largest health networks in the state comprised of 1,250 beds, nearly 10,000 employees and 2,700 credentialed physicians. HackensackUMC was listed as the number one hospital in New Jersey and is proud to be among one of 30 hospitals to have received 10 or more (11) nationally-ranked specialties in U.S. News & World Report’s 2014-15 Best Hospital rankings. One of only five of these hospitals was rated “High Performing” in all categories of Best Hospitals for Common Care in 2015. HackensackUMC is one of Healthgrades America's 50 Best Hospitals™ for nine years in a row, and received the Healthgrades Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence™ 13 years in a row. The medical center has also been named a Leapfrog Top Hospital, is one of the top 25 green hospitals in the country according to Practice Greenhealth, and received 23 Gold Seals of Approval™ by the Joint Commission – more than any other hospital in the country. It was the first hospital in New Jersey and second in the nation to become a Magnet® recognized hospital for nursing excellence; receiving its fifth consecutive designation in 2014. HackensackUMC has created an entire campus of award-winning care, including: the John Theurer Cancer Center; the Heart & Vascular Hospital; and the Sarkis and Siran Gabrellian Women’s and Children’s Pavilion, which houses the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital Children’s Hospital and Donna A. Sanzari Women’s Hospital, which was designed with The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center and listed on the Green Guide’s list of Top 10 Green Hospitals in the U.S. HackensackUMC is the Hometown Hospital of the New York Giants and the New York Red Bulls and was Official Medical Services Provider to The Barclays PGA Golf Tournament and the NY/NJ Super Bowl XLVIII Host Committee. It remains committed to its community through fundraising and community events. To learn more, visit:   




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