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Mets help unveil baseball-themed NYHQ room for kids

Several members of the New York Mets organization stopped by New York Hospital Queens last week for the unveiling of a brand new room aimed at making children’s hospital stays a little easier.

The room was donated by the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut branch of the Starlight Children’s Foundation in honor of its longtime partner, the Amazin’s, whose memorabilia and orange-and-blue color scheme adorn its walls.

Catcher Josh Thole, shortstop Jose Reyes and new manager Terry Collins were all on hand last Thursday for the ribbon-cutting, as were local elected officials and pediatric patients who may use the facility themselves.

“This is a heartwarming day for us. To come in here for a few hours and put a smile on a kid’s face puts a whole new perspective on life,” Collins said. “It humanizes us when kids see these great players on TV and then they get to see them in person, get to see that they have a human side as well as a sports side.”

The baseball decorations and other kid-friendly features in the room will provide more comfort and distractions for pediatric patients undergoing invasive procedures — such as endoscopy or catheterization — than can be provided in their individual rooms.

“The importance of this room is if we’re going to be doing any invasive procedure, we don’t like to do it in the room because there’s no space and if something goes wrong you can’t care for the child,” said Dr. Joseph Abularrage, chairman of the hospital’s Pediatrics Unit. “That’s what it is: making it an easier experience for the kids instead of just bringing them into a beige, flat room.”

The opening of the room was an event 1 1/2 years in the making, and the facility will go into use immediately, Abularrage said.

The Starlight Foundation chose to honor the Mets because of their long-time commitment to the community as well as their fruitful partnership with the foundation. The Mets have worked with NYHQ for 19 years and with Starlight for eight years, while NYHQ and Starlight have worked together for 12 years.

“The idea for us to do this room came out of our partnership with the Mets. What they do for us every year is have a big event called Starlight Night at Citi Field,” said Michele Hall-Duncan, director of children’s services for the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut branch of the Starlight Foundation. “It’s an amazing event, we’ve been doing for so long, and it’s such a great fund-raiser for us that we figured we’d give them a big ‘thank you.’”

Borough President Helen Marshall, state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone), state Assembly members Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) and City Councilman Peter Koo (R-Flushing) all attended the event in support of NYHQ’s ongoing efforts to serve the borough. The hospital is at 56-45 Main St. in Flushing.

“This hospital has grown and for Queens it is very necessary since three hospitals have recently closed in our borough,” Marshall said. “This room is very much needed. Any time children are sick, we need to do anything we can to help them.”

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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