Pediatric Burn Patients at UPMC Mercy Benefit From Support of LHAS

By: Courtney Caprara


The UPMC Mercy Trauma and Burn Center has been treating burn patients of all ages since 1967, becoming the first burn center of its kind in Pennsylvania and one of the first in the United States. Victims of all ages have been seeking care from UPMC Mercy’s state-of-the-art facilities and expert physicians for decades.

A unique aspect of the UPMC Mercy Burn Center is its specialized treatment for pediatric burn patients. An area called the “Enchanted Forest” is a whimsical play area that discretely doubles as a rehabilitation area. Children who have suffered burn injuries can divert their attention from pain and focus on having fun, allowing them to undergo rehabilitation in a kid-friendly environment. Thanks to a recent gift from the Ladies Hospital Aid Society (LHAS), the burn center now has significant funds to continue improving the quality of pediatric rehabilitation care available through the purchase of interactive toys.

Founded in 1898, LHAS is a nonprofit organization of Pittsburgh women that have consistently worked to improve the medical care available in area hospitals. Since its inception, the organization has raised more than $15 million for area health care initiatives, recently pledging $50,000 to the Enchanted Forest at UPMC Mercy, which has been renamed the “LHAS Enchanted Forest.”

“Over the years, our mission has expanded while remaining responsive to the changing needs of the entire western Pennsylvania community,” said Judy Woffington, an LHAS director. “Our fundraiser, “Evening of Enchantment,” established the LHAS Enchanted Forest. This room away from pain is a calming place where the youngest burn patients can retreat and indulge in appealing activities, games and toys, all therapeutic in nature,” she added.

Michelle Fontana, the Trauma and Burn Program Manager at UPMC Mercy, expressed the importance of therapeutic play. “Interactive toys double as physical therapy and keep a child’s mind active. The LHAS Enchanted Forest is not simply a playroom, but rather a complement to the care pediatric burn patients receive at Mercy,” she said.

At a recent dedication ceremony, representatives from the burn center and LHAS and hospital chaplain, Father John Oesterle, celebrated the good things to come for the pediatric burn patients at UPMC Mercy. Each child will have access to a multitude of new toys for therapeutic play thanks to LHAS.

“In ways large and small, LHAS lends a helping hand to make a difference in the lives of others, one person at a time.  We thank the UPMC Mercy Hospital staff for recognizing our mission and carrying out our vision of caring for the children in the Burn Center,” said Woffington.

“LHAS is a wonderful organization that truly takes to heart the charities to which it donates. We are lifelong partners now and we are so thankful for their gift and support,” Fontana said. In the years to come, she hopes that the partnership between LHAS and the UPMC Mercy Burn Center will continue to grow. Possibilities for the space in the future include a remodel and a video game area for older patients.