Pleasanton Weekly

News - August 5, 2011

New pediatric center is colorful and kid-friendly

Axis Health Organization celebrates renovated space

by Priyanka Mody

There is a common stereotype that children dread going to the doctor's office. Yet imagine if that medical facility was transformed into a place that seemed to resonate with joy and greatly appealed to a child's imagination.

The late David Thistlethwaite, project architect of the refurbished Pediatric Suite at Axis Community Health on Railroad Avenue, had envisioned a space that would provide a "positive distraction" for children. The grand opening last week showed off the results.

An electric train circles around the ceiling of the reception area, which Thistlethwaite hoped would ease some of the anxieties that children feel as they wait for their checkup.

In conjunction with HGA Architects and Engineers, artist Tom Matousek painted the walls of the suite, teeming with color and originality, his inspiration flowing from a jungle theme of flora and fauna. Vivid greens and bright reds, blues and yellows are part of a wild and adventurous theme, creatively showcased in a mural.

"I never wanted to grow up," Matousek said. "And with that, I distinctly remember things through the eyes of a child, and that's what I was trying to get at."

The two primary benefactors for the renovations were the federal government, through its stimulus funds of $250,000, plus Sutter Health, which gave $70,000. Other contributions include Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds from the cities of Pleasanton, Livermore and Dublin and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Also, the Pleasanton Weekly names Axis Community Health as a recipient of its Holiday Fund for the last 10 years.

"It truly took the whole village to make this happen," Axis Chief Executive Office Sue Compton said.

In addition to the Pediatric Suite, the donations were used to expand medical records and the information technology facilities.

Development Director Valerie Jonas said that the responses to the new suite have been exceptional and "kids love the door," referring to the nearly three-foot-tall swing open crawlspace designated for children.

Aside from the interior design, the building offers more on a practical level. With the addition of two exam rooms, and more staff, Axis can increase its patient capacity.

"We're now able to better serve our clients," Jonas said. "The flow of the space is laid out to be more efficient and comfortable for families."

Moreover, Jonas said that the renovated facility allows for more same-day appointments, which for families ensures that their children will be seen right away when they are sick. It also includes an immunization clinic.

Most importantly, Axis staff members hope that the building can uphold their objective of serving the community by "providing medical and mental health care that is responsive, affordable and of the highest quality," as stated on its website.

"We're getting so many more patients," Compton said. "And as the economy is going down in this spiral, and people are losing insurance, and there are a lot of other people who just need affordable health care ... we desperately needed the space."

Attendees at last week's event included board members, key donors, City Council members and Poet Laureate Deborah Grossman, whose poem "The Magic Door" was presented in honor of the new facility. The next step for Axis, which Compton mentioned in her ribbon-cutting speech, will be acquiring a new building in the following years. To learn more, go to www.axishealth.org.

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