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Children's Hospice Prepares to Open

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The San Francisco Bay area will soon be home to a first-of-its-kind medical facility.

It's the kind of place no one likes to think about. But it offers help and comfort to families when they most need it.

Battling a terminal illness is hard at any age. But when the patient is a child it can be even more difficult.

The George Mark Children's House is based on the English model, where most communities have a hospice designed specifically for children.

They're still putting the finishing touches to the George Mark Children's House in San Leandro. When it's done, it's going to be the first hospice and respite home in the U.S. specially designed for children.

Dr. Barbara Beach/George Mark Children's House: "We are not a hospital. We are an extension of home, not an extension of the hospital."

For children battling terminal illness, it will be a place to come for end of life care, where they can stay with their families in a supportive, caring environment.

For children facing serious but not life threatening illnesses, it offers all the comforts of home.

"This is our computer room.. has a space age feel to it."

Each room is decorated according to a theme. In the computer room, the kids can play computer games, and keep up with their homework.

Each room has a window seat that doubles as a bed, so parents or siblings can stay with them.

Medical equipment is hidden, so the room doesn't feel like a hospital.

And there are special apartments, so whole families can stay several days or even weeks. And they can even bring the family pet.

Kathy Hull Psy.D/George Mark Children's House: "I think for a child who is critically ill or terminally ill to be able to come and be in a homelike environment where their whole family can stay with them, is a very different experience than a hospital room."

Providing this kind of care is not cheap. But no one will be turned away simply because they can't afford it.

Dr. Barbara Beach: "Any child who meets the medical criteria wil be welcome to come here and we'll figure out a way to pay for it and make it work."

By offering comfort, care and support, the George Mark Children's House is hoping to make a difficult situation a little easier for families.

The George Mark Children's house will open it's doors in February.

It's hoped that other communities around the country will follow their lead with special facilities for children.

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