The beds, computers and cutting-edge medical technology are set up — and the pediatric patients will start arriving in a little more than a week.
So officials and staff with MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach, as well as local leaders, gathered — either in person or virtually — to celebrate the long-awaited completion of the hospital’s Cherese Mari Laulhere Children’s Village on Friday, Feb. 12.
The mother of Cherese Mari Laulhere, the village’s namesake, also attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The center will start admitting patients beginning Monday, Feb. 22.
“We know that Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital is such an important part of what happens here in Long Beach,” Mayor Robert Garcia said. “But also all across southern California.
“To know that we’re going to have all these experts and clinics that are going to work together in this one site, providing services for our children,” he added, “is really important.”
Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital — which treats more than 8,000 children annually and serves an additional 84,000 kids needing specialized treatment at its various outpatient and satellite locations — created the Children’s Village to establish a single spot for pediatric patients and their families to get help.
The new new center will essentially serve as an extension of MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital, with the 4-story, 80,000 square-foot facility providing a one-stop shop for children with chronic illnesses needing treatment. The village will boast 36 different pediatric specialties — including a pharmacy, an adolescent gym, a developmental therapy gym, an infant gym, treatment rooms and exam rooms — all in one place.
“So many people have contributed to make this day possible,” CEO John Bishop said. “From our patients and families, to our design and construction team, to our employees and to our generous donors.”
The village, said nurse manager Mary Jorgensen, was designed “by families for families.”
The hospital launched a campaign to raise $60 million for the project in August 2018. In 2019, the Cherese Mari Laulhere Foundation — a longtime supporter — made what the hospital called a “transformational gift” and the lead donation for the campaign. The foundation, like the Children’s Village, is named after the daughter of Chris and Larry Laulhere.
Laulhere, born at the hospital and a Wilson High alumna, died in 1996, along with six others in a tour bus accident in Agra, India. She had a keen interest in social and political issues, according to her mother, showing great concern for those less fortunate than her — especially children.
“When we first heard about the village, I knew in my heart it had to be Cherese’s village,” Chris Laulhere said. “I always hope that Cherese can see what she is doing, the lives she is affecting.”
Specialists at the Children’s Village will also rotate between the Long Beach location and its partner centers in Torrance and Fountain Valley, creating greater access to families that can’t make the commute.
“What an incredible and monumental moment this is,” Reverend Joshua Yee said. “After years and decades of visioning, planning and building this amazing structure, the Children’s Village now stands as a symbol of hope and healing in the greater Long Beach community and beyond.
“It truly takes a village.”