Hansel and Gretel, Jack (of beanstalk fame) and other fairy-tale characters have been admitted to the pediatric ward at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center.
Mural artist Roger Dolin is painting their likenesses on walls, doors and walkways stretching the length of the 24-bed unit. The goal is to amuse and distract small patients visiting for injections, tests and other treatments, hospital officials said.
"The idea was to make it fun," said Vicki Lombardo, director of maternal and children's health services. She had seen Dolin's work at a hospital in San Bernardino and recommended him when Fountain Valley Regional was planning to remodel its children's unit.
"This is a piece of the therapy," Lombardo said. "If the children are upset and nervous, it makes therapy more difficult. This calms and distracts them."
The brightly colored characters appear to be doing their job. Three-year-old Jacqueline Marr, admitted for a few days this week for an eye infection, took her mother on a tour to point out her favorite parts of the mural.
"It's really neat for the kids," mother Kathy Marr said. "You can walk around and tell them stories."
Though the artwork added about $12,000 to the cost of the remodeling, making it a $20,000 project, officials of the private hospital felt that it would be worth the money by helping to make the facility more attractive in a highly competitive health-care market.
Dolin, 39, whose mural business is based in his Van Nuys home, has painted fantasies on the walls of nearly 30 hospitals between San Diego and San Francisco. He said he goes to health-care seminars to learn more about his clients' needs.
He and four assistants started working in Fountain Valley in July and hope to have the last castle completed by the end of this month.
The fairy-tale scenes merge into each other so that young patients can walk through a forest along a path that leads to a town square and then to a castle--the nurses' station.
To represent the city's ethnic diversity, the mural depicts not only European fairy tales but also images of Vietnamese and Chinese children.
"I wanted to paint big, to paint for other people instead of for myself," said Dolin, a fine-arts graduate of Cal State Northridge who has been painting murals since he was a teenager. "I like knowing my work has a long-term effect."