Painting sweet dreams: Artist spruces up pediatric sleep center

For nearly 2½ years, South Elgin resident Stacy Lazzara spent many hours at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital as her daughter Averie, now 5 years old, went through treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Although it was a difficult time, Stacy remembers how the pediatric oncology team helped to brighten their days with things like bike rides around the hospital floor and even a visit with a pony.

She wanted to give back to the Winfield hospital and offered her artistic talent to paint kid-friendly murals for the pediatric sleep center.

"I just wanted a way to pay forward all the love and kindness our family has been shown throughout Averie's medical journey," Stacy said. "I loved the idea of using murals to bring a sense of adventure to the kids' overnight stays. My hope was to give each child something to be excited about, and to transform the traditional hospital room experience into something a little more magical."

Stacy shared her mural ideas with Patti DeJuilio, clinical director of respiratory care in the sleep center.

Since the sleep center has seen a steady increase in pediatric sleep studies each year, DeJuilio was excited about making some of the rooms more kid-friendly. After a few modifications, the themes were set: desert camping, enchanted forest, and outer space.

"When I saw the first mural, I was brought to tears," said Patti DeJuilio. "I was so happy for the kids, because they can have a hard time sometimes falling asleep, they're frightened, and I feel like the murals make it much more warm and welcoming for the children coming in for a sleep study."

Stacy hopes the murals will help kids who spend the night at the hospital feel more welcomed and comforted.

"I remember being inpatient with Averie and it was always the little things at the hospital - the fish tank, the playroom - different things environmentally that made her feel safe and a little more at home," she said. "That's what I hope these murals bring to kids who stay in the sleep lab."

A pediatric sleep study evaluates children with behaviors or medical conditions that severely interfere with sleep.

The volume of pediatric sleep studies at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital has increased more than 20% year over year and is expected to continue to increase over the next couple of years.

The program is set to expand to inpatient pediatrics as well as the pediatric intensive care unit.

For more information on the sleep center, visit

For more information on Stacy Lazzara's artwork, visit

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