Voorhees Pediatric Facility: Providing a home for medically fragile children

November 28, 2022


Courtesy of Russell Turco

East student volunteer Elizabeth Le (‘23) and a VPF resident smile for a picture.

Since first opening its doors in 1982, the Voorhees Pediatric Facility (VPF) has served as a special care nursing facility to provide holistic care for medically fragile children, from newborn to age 21. The facility’s residents typically have complex medical conditions and thus need access to constant specialized care. The facility is a full-time home for these children, allowing them to learn and thrive in an environment designed to meet their needs.

Currently, VPF provides care to 110 residential patients — children who all live at the facility full time. An additional 24 kids bus in each day for the facility’s Medical Day Care, where they can go through the school day while also receiving their needed medical attention and care.

Each day, just like any other child, VPF’s patients get ready for and attend school at the facility’s in-house Bancroft School, a local school program focused on special education. In between their therapy sessions, the children learn, play, and just do ordinary kid things.

A volunteer bakes with a VPF resident. (Courtesy of Russell Turco)

“[Sometimes I’ll] just be working during the day and hear music blasting, and I’ll go outside and there’s a DJ and all the kids are out there with a dance party out of nowhere, unplanned,” said Voorhees Pediatric Facility administrator Pizzichillo. From weekly outings to the movies, to the mall, or even just to get a haircut, the facility does their best to get the patients out in the community and allow them to make the same fun memories as other children.

In addition to nurses and therapists, the VPF team also includes over a hundred volunteers, many of whom are high school students.

A VPF resident plays a game with a volunteer. (Courtesy of Russell Turco)

“It’s rewarding knowing that people may not get to visit [the kids] very often [and] you’re keeping them company [and] having fun with them,” said East student Lizzie Le (‘23) has been volunteering at VPF since 2020. Volunteers like Le help out by keeping the kids engaged and active: for example, they sing and dance together and play games, from “Candyland” to “Sorry!” to “Connect 4”.

Even with facilities like VPF, however, medical accessibility remains challenging for many children. When compared to that of adults, the availability of local medical treatments is lacking: sometimes there may only be one option for one of VPF’s patients to receive their needed treatment, says Pizzichillo, and it is hours away in North Jersey.

Nevertheless, although there are still roadblocks to be overcome, the Voorhees Pediatric Facility is helping children with medical conditions live life to the fullest — one therapy session, one impromptu dance party, one smile at a time.

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