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Marisa Tufaro Foundation Honors Namesake on Her Birthday by Generously Supporting The Bristol-Myers-Squibb Children’s Hospital at RWJUH’s Child Life Program

Marisa Tufaro(New Brunswick, NJ) - A hospital stay can be an anxious time for children and their families. The Marisa Tufaro Foundation helped make these stays less stressful for children when it recently made a generous donation to the Child Life program at The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital (BMSCH) at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) in New Brunswick.

In addition to making a generous donation for a second straight year to support an art therapist and technology for the Gorrie Teen Lounge at BMSCH, the Foundation is commemorating what would have been its namesake’s 15th birthday with funding for advanced technology for the hospital’s newly renovated lounge.

The need for new technology continues to grow at BMSCH, and The Marisa Tufaro Foundation’s donation will help ensure that the hospital’s adolescent patients have tools that allow them to communicate, learn, play, and interact in a safe and fun environment.

The BMSCH’s Gorrie Teen Lounge is a place for patients to engage in therapeutic and social activities while hospitalized. The hospital was in need of developing and updating the technology available to its patients, including computers, gaming systems, and other interactive initiatives. The technology items not only provide and encourage a range of activities that are entertaining, but also provide the teens and their families opportunities to stimulate and maintain developmental skills, interact with others, promote independence, and encourage self-expression.

Art therapy provides therapeutic, healing benefits for patients in hospitals. Art therapy can help patients open up and share their thoughts, feelings, and perceptions about their hospitalization or illness through the creative process. Opening up through art can alleviate stress, anxiety, emotional distress, and potentially minimize pain.

“Expanding our art therapy program adds another dimension to the service we can provide to support our children, especially with patients who have acute psychological needs,” said Barbara Romito, Director of Child Life at BMSCH. “Programs like art therapy offer children ways to express themselves so they can cope with their hospital experience.”

The Marisa Tufaro Foundation was founded by Greg Tufaro, a scholastic sports writer for the Home News Tribune, and his wife, Cyndi, an Edison Township elementary school principal, following the passing of their daughter, Marisa, on January 30, 2017. The tax-exempt nonprofit’s mission is to help children in need throughout the greater Middlesex County area.

“As parents, we witnessed firsthand the impact these programs and the kindness of generous individuals can have on the lives of children and their families as they cope with a hospital stay,” Greg Tufaro said. “Marisa endured many stays in the hospital and art therapists played a major role in helping her cope and develop a passion for art.

Technology also provided Marisa with a wonderful diversion, taking her mind off her worries and pain, or keeping her occupied while receiving treatments or undergoing procedures. We are thankful to have the opportunity to honor Marisa’s memory by supporting programs that will assist thousands of children and families who receive treatment at BMSCH each year.”

Marisa was born with a complex cardiac defect that required six open-heart surgeries. Despite keeping hundreds of doctor’s appointments and being hospitalized for more than two years, Marisa lived a vibrant life that inspired. A heart transplant, performed to extend Marisa’s life, tragically cut it short after a post-operative complication developed into a rare form of cancer. After radiation and chemotherapy treatments failed to thwart the relentless onslaught of an aggressive disease that riddled her brain and body, Marisa succumbed to her illness in January 2017 following a valiant battle. She was 13 years old.

Marisa was under the loving care for her entire life of Joseph Gaffney, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Division Chief, Pediatric Cardiology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

To learn more about RWJUH, please visit www.rwjbh.org/newbrunswick. For a referral to a physician affiliated with RWJUH, please call 1-888-MD-RWJUH. Follow us on Twitter at www.rwjuh.edu/twitter and Facebook at www.rwjuh.edu/facebook.
About Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) New Brunswick, an RWJBarnabas Health Facility, is a 600-bed academic medical center that serves as the principal teaching hospital of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the flagship Cancer Hospital of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Its Centers of Excellence include cardiovascular care from minimally invasive heart surgery to transplantation, cancer care, stroke care, neuroscience, orthopedics, bariatric surgery and women’s and children’s care including The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (www.bmsch.org). A Level 1 Trauma Center and the first designated Pediatric Trauma Center in the state, RWJUH’s New Brunswick campus serves as a national resource in its ground-breaking approaches to emergency preparedness.

RWJUH has been ranked among the best hospitals in America by U.S. News & World Report seven times and has been selected by the publication as a high performing hospital in numerous specialties. The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital has been ranked among the best hospitals in America by U.S. News & World Report five times. In addition, RWJUH was named among the best places to work in health care by Modern Healthcare magazine and received the Equity Care of Award as Top Hospital for Healthcare Diversity and Inclusion from the American Hospital Association. RWJUH Brunswick has earned significant national recognition for clinical quality and patient safety, including the prestigious Magnet® Award for Nursing Excellence and “Most Wired” designation by Hospitals and Health Networks Magazine. The American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer has rated RWJUH New Brunswick among the nation’s best comprehensive cancer centers.

Contact: Peter Haigney
RWJUH Public Relations
(732) 937-8568