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Zucker family makes $5 million contribution to MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital

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The child life atrium of the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital in Charleston will be named in honor of the Zucker family, which has made a multi-million dollar contribution to build the new facility set to open in 2019.

The gift of Charleston businesswoman Anita Zucker and her family was announced during an MUSC Board of Trustees meeting Thursday.

Named the Jerry and Anita Zucker Family Atrium, the section of the hospital will serve as an indoor play are where children and their families can relax, paint, read and play games. Those at MUSC say the space will provide a getaway from the "sometimes stressful environment associated with patient care."

Zucker said her family’s decision to support the atrium with a $5 million donation was rooted in their shared belief in the therapeutic importance of “down time” to hospitalized children. “We know that children generally have a better hospital experience when they feel safe and relaxed,” she said. “That’s why a space like this is so important. It gives them a place where they can work through their fear in a really fun way, where they can just be kids and not patients.”

“Play overpowers all that is scary and unknown," said Betsy McMillian, director of MUSC's Child Life program. "This atrium will give children that safe place, where they can laugh, be loud and messy and, most important, where they can heal.”

In addition to the child life atrium, those at MUSC say the few hospital will provide more spacious, family-centered amenities and expanded services, including an expanded neonatal intensive care unit, an entire floor dedicated to the care of children with cancer, and the most comprehensive pediatric heart center in South Carolina.

“The Zucker family’s philanthropy is guided by a Hebrew concept called ‘tikkun olam,’ which means ‘repair of the world,’” said MUSC President David J. Cole, M.D., FACS. “I cannot think of a better example of that principle than an investment in a place devoted to the healing of children. This is such a meaningful and impactful gift, and we’re so grateful for the Zuckers’ belief and confidence in our mission.”

MUSC is working to raise at least $125 million in donations to help replace the current hospital, which opened in 1987. The Zuckers’ gift brings the campaign’s total so far to nearly 93 percent of its fundraising goal.

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