Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Dedicates the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation Interfaith Center

Published on 
January 22, 2016

LOS ANGELES (January 22, 2016) – Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) announced Friday the grand opening and dedication of the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation Interfaith Center. The 2,400 square-foot non-denominational indoor and outdoor space will serve as a place of emotional and spiritual respite for CHLA patients, families and staff.

“This magnificent spiritual care center will provide our patients and families with a tranquil setting where they can freely connect with one another and their respective faiths,” says Paul Viviano, president and chief executive officer of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “Today’s opening exemplifies CHLA’s ongoing commitment to serving families from all cultures and all faiths.” 

Joining Viviano at Friday’s dedication were local faith leaders and representatives including: His Eminence, Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America; The Most Rev. José H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles; Chaplain Efrat Brayer, Jewish on-call chaplain at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles; Mr. Khurram Ahmed, Muslim chaplain, Islamic Center of Southern California; Rev. Dr. Tina Jitsujo Gauthier, from the Faculty of Buddhist Chaplaincy Program, University of the West; Swami Sarvadevananda, Minister and Spiritual Leader of the Vendanta Society of Southern California.

“Spiritual care is a vital component in helping people heal,” says Kathleen McCarthy Kostlan, member of the CHLA Board of Trustees and chairperson of The Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation, which has named the Center with a generous $5.5 million gift. “Numerous studies show that the benefits of spiritual care during hospitalization can include shorter hospital stays, improved pain management, motivation to heal and an improved sense of well-being.”

The new Leavey Interfaith Center, which is centrally located between the Marion and John E. Anderson Pavilion inpatient tower and The McAllister Building, features:

  • 900 square feet of indoor prayer and meditation space—nearly seven times larger than the hospital’s current chapel
  • A spacious interfaith sanctuary for ceremonies and group activities
  • A semi-private Our Lady of Guadalupe devotional with a kneeler
  • Four semi-enclosed meditation and prayer spaces
  • Symbols representative of the diverse array of faiths our patients including Catholicism, Eastern and Western Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and Hinduism
  • A 1,500-square-foot shaded outdoor Reflection Garden with soothing water features, symbolic art and landscaping

With this new space, patients and family members can connect with their faith in the tranquil meditation rooms and the Reflection Garden when a retreat from the hospital room is needed.


“With 12,600 patient contacts over the course of a year, our spiritual care team is committed to providing support, comfort and hope to patients and families of all cultural, spiritual and religious traditions,” says Rev. Dagmar Grefe, PhD, manager of Spiritual Care Services and Clinical Pastoral Education.  This includes conducting bedside visits with patients and families in their time of need, spiritual counseling and rituals such as baptism, communion, confession and blessings, as well as guidance and support for hospital staff including education about religious traditions that may impact a child’s recovery experience at CHLA. The spiritual care team is available around-the-clock, seven days a week for critical emergencies.

Kostlan, a 1957 alumna of the University of Southern California, has been a dedicated supporter of CHLA for more than three decades. In addition to serving on the hospital’s Board of Trustees, Kostlan is a longtime member of Las Madrinas, one of the hospital’s longstanding Associates & Affiliates fundraising groups. Kostlan’s parents, Farmers Insurance co-founder Thomas Leavey and his wife, Dorothy Risley Leavey, cultivated a passion for philanthropy in Kathleen. The couple’s commitment to helping those in need inspired them to establish The Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation in 1952, which Kathleen now chairs. Previous to The Leavey Foundation’s most recent support for the hospital’s Interfaith Center, the Foundation supported the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit at CHLA—a unit which received the national gold-level Beacon Award for Excellence from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses in 2013.

About Children’s Hospital Los Angeles 

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is a nonprofit pediatric health care organization dedicated to creating hope and building healthier futures for children. Honored as the premier children’s hospital in California and among the top 10 in the nation, we treat 107,000 young patients annually from Los Angeles and around the world. As a pediatric charity of choice, the hospital relies on the generosity of the community to support its groundbreaking pediatric research and the complex care it provides for critically ill and injured children.

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