Published January 24, 2023 / All Stories
For the families of children battling childhood cancer and other catastrophic diseases, days are often all but typical.On top of coping with the emotional weight of a diagnosis, patient families spend days in and out of appointments, meeting with doctors, getting tests and receiving treatment.
“Sometimes you’ll go into the hospital at eight in the morning and you’ll be there all day. You might have a break but it’s usually not long enough for you to go home and rest. Or, you think you’re going in for a quick check-up and suddenly find your child needs something else, and now you’re there for six hours,” said Paula Elsener, a mother to a three-time cancer survivor at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
For Elsener and other patient families at St. Jude, days like these can extend over weeks or even months, leaving them limited opportunities to refuel, rest and take care of themselves. Seeing their struggles, clinical care providers at St. Jude and leaders at AbbVie saw an opportunity to support the non-clinical needs of patients and families – and took action.
This month, AbbVie and St. Jude unveiled Family Commons, the first-ever treatment-free and clinical-staff-free floor at St. Jude, offering patients and families a home-like space to find comfort and respite in between clinic appointments. The design and construction of Family Commons was funded by a historic $50 million donation from AbbVie. AbbVie’s donation has also supported non-clinical services, such as music therapy and school programming, that will continue in Family Commons.
AbbVie’s donation to St. Jude was driven by its commitment to giving back to individuals and communities in need, a defining part of the company’s culture. Since AbbVie was founded in 2013, it has donated almost $650 million and has served communities all around the world through employee giving and volunteerism. The donation to St. Jude is part of a broader, multi-year $350-million commitment AbbVie made in 2018 to nine charitable nonprofits.
“AbbVie is deeply committed to helping patients and their families thrive and we recognize the unique needs for families as their child receives medical treatment,” said Claudia Carravetta, vice president of corporate responsibility and global philanthropy, AbbVie. “We are so proud that our partnership with St. Jude supports patient families as they navigate one of the most difficult challenges imaginable, so they can focus on what is most important: the health and well-being of their child.”
Key features of Family Commons
Family Commons will open to patient families on February 7, 2023. Entering the 45,000-square-foot space, children and parents will find a multitude of areas where they can recover, connect with each other, play, nap and get the support they need between clinical appointments.