New York hospital turns basement into a winter wonderland

Lauren Glassberg Image
Wednesday, December 26, 2018
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Lauren Glassberg reports on the holiday-themed hospital.

NEW YORK -- Memorial Sloan Kettering is known around the world for its cancer care, but it turns out doctors and nurses aren't the only ones making people feel better there.

A hallway of the hospital basement has been turned into a winter wonderland, full of holiday themed decor.

At Memorial Sloan Kettering, they really do deck the halls, with reindeer, stockings and sleds. The hallway runs almost a full avenue, and even though it's in the basement, it is transporting.

"It's tough, everyone sees these kids, everyone knows they're going through hard times so for a little bit if we can make them smile and make everything OK, we do it," said James Imparato, who runs the hospital's facilities department that includes the carpenters, the mechanics, and plumbers like himself.

It was a decorated toilet seat wreath put up 25 years ago by the plumbing shop that started all this.

"The following years the electricians had to outdo the plumbers so they put up lights," said Imparato.

Friendly competition between departments eventually turned into a group effort that's now 25 years in, all the work done on employees' own time, Santa's helpers if you will.

"We're proud to do it, it's all about the smiles. They forget what they're here for," said painter Jason Di Toro.

3-year-old Nora is doing a vaccine trial for neuroblastoma but a stroll through here is like a spoonful of sugar.

"We're so thankful for it, a little place away from everything. To kind of get away and feel the Christmas spirit, it's really nice," said her mother Ashley Bailey.

Every year they like to add a new element. Last year they put up a dry erase board where people could write messages. It was so popular that this year they're letting people write directly onto the walls, with message of thanks and hope and good health which is what everyone at the hospital is about.