Dr. Donna Eckardt of Mercy Children's Hospital with Grace, Jack and Lilly Burke.

From expanding pediatric transport capabilities to distraction tools for children during long stays for treatment, Mercy Health Foundation’s Benefit for the Kids is essential to optimizing the capabilities of Mercy Children’s Hospital. “This event allows us to provide better care, enhance the patient experience and reach out to the community in ways that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to,” says Mercy Children’s Hospital president Dr. Joseph Kahn.

The facility is a 169-bed pediatric hospital within Mercy Medical Center and offers a full range of services devoted to the care of children, including a pediatric emergency department, inpatient area, intensive care unit, neonatal intensive care unit and outpatient test and treatment center. In addition, an off-campus therapy and development center helps children in a variety of specialties, including the newly expanded autism services. “Mercy Children’s Hospital has developed and thrived because of the demands of the community,” Kahn explains. “Our pediatric hospital is the closest to where the majority of people in the St. Louis metropolitan area live, and we’re focused on patient care and service to families.”

In support of that mission, Mercy Health Foundation will hold the ninth annual Benefit for the Kids, beginning on July 30 with a golf tournament at Whitmoor Country Club. The weeklong event also features a variety of patient-centered activities at the hospital through the support of area organizations and concludes on Aug. 3 with a dinner and auction at The Ritz-Carlton St. Louis. “It’s an entire week dedicated to raising funds for pediatric services,” says Greg Twardowski, event co-chair and board member of the Foundation, which was started in 2004 to help subsidize various hospital services and charity care efforts.

A Fund-a-Need during the auction will focus on raising money for a particular aspect of the children’s hospital. In the past, funds have gone toward the creation of a pediatric healing garden, as well as the POINT (Pediatric Outpatient and Inpatient Navigation Team) program that helps coordinate care for chronically ill children. This year, the effort will raise money for the renovation of the pediatric outpatient surgery area, which serves more than 4,500 kids a year. In addition, other money raised during the week will go toward a plethora of other needs at the pediatric hospital. “It is our main mechanism for supporting a number of things the hospital does for children, families and the community,” Kahn says.

The benefit is led by co-chairs Ellen Ross and Twardowski, while the auction is chaired by Janice Bruns-Mantovani and the golf tournament by Rob Rubbelke. The community is invited to buy tickets for the events, purchase sponsorships, volunteer their time or donate auction items, as any contribution will help Mercy Children’s Hospital continue to be a haven for pediatric health care, Twardowski says. “It’s a great comfort when you show up with your child and realize that start to finish, all of these services are dedicated and designed specifically for children.”