Respite and Relaxation: Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Patient Recreation Pavilion


Nestled on the fifteenth floor of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Upper East Side hospital facility, the Patient Recreation Pavilion provides patients and their families with a calming and relaxing environment, free of the sights and sounds of their hospital room and doctor’s office. Designed as a respite from cancer and its treatments, the sun-filled space hosts many group and individual activities, as well as special events and celebrations.

Its indoor and outside areas also offer a comforting escape for those who simply need quiet time to reflect.

“In the midst of the stress and overwhelming life changes a cancer diagnosis brings, many patients find it difficult to relax and enjoy things in life that once brought them peace,” says Yolanda Toth, Director of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Patient Recreation Department. “They are so focused on their treatment. We help them to discover or rediscover the things that bring them enjoyment –whether it’s a good mystery novel, an art project, or a game of cards.”

Something for Everyone

During the day, patients and their guests can join recreation therapists leading art projects and other workshops such as copper jewelry enameling, stained glass painting, woodworking, and decoupage. Many patients find creative projects like these to be therapeutic during treatment and long hospital stays, and everyone is encouraged to explore the different offerings and work at their own pace.

On some days, the recreation staff welcomes special guests who bring their talent and interests to the hospital so that others may enjoy it. Popular activities include performances by students from The Juilliard School, music therapy, and celebrity visits.

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About the Space

The Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Patient Recreation Pavilion, named in honor of a former member of the board and long-time friend of Memorial Sloan Kettering, opened in 1976. Accessible from the 15th floor of the hospital, the 8,000-plus-square-foot space is connected to the main hospital by a gently sloping ramp that makes it easy for patients to reach even if they are not on foot.

The recreation pavilion also houses a pool table, a baby grand piano, a sitting area where patients can enjoy movies on a big screen, and a library with more than 12,000 general interest books, magazines, and music recordings. An outdoor terrace overlooking the city’s East Side is also accessible from the floor, weather permitting.

Explore our weekly calendar of patient recreation events and other support programs for patients and caregivers.

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As an oncology nurse, I can't tell you how much I love this. Kudos to the MSK staff for using their resources wisely to create the best healing environment for the patients.

As a psychiatrist at the Portuguese Institute of Oncology, in OPorto, Portugal, I find this project absolutely awesome! Congratulations! It's unique. And physically and emotionally healing! Thank you for sharing!

My husband was hospitalized many times at MSKCC and I cannot tell you how comforting it was to spend time in an invironment away from the hospital room.
We made many lovley things including mosaic trivet in various shapes which I still use. Also stuffed animals which my grandchildren loved.
It is run very professionallly. I recomend it highly.

God I remember going down the hall to this room!
During my 12 day stay- it kept me sane.
At times it kept my family sane to to be able to there!
My aunt still has the earrings I made her there. My son who's now 7 has the frog I stuffed & sewed him.... Thinking I would never make it back to him..., here we are 7 years later!! Thanks to Dr Paty!

My friend is thinking about donating his Wii and some games. Would the pediatric department be able to use them?

Courtney, thanks for reaching out. We will speak to someone about this and contact you at the email address you provided if the department needs this type of donation. Happy holidays!

Your patient, Shirley Fischler, just posted an article in the Daily Freeman; the "Big" paper here in the Hudson Valley, Kingston, NY. She is a regular, beloved columnist and is extremely loved and followed by countless numbers around the world. We are all following her health's progression and in todays article she extolled the virtues and extreme value of the Abby Rockefeller Pavilion. So many of us were unaware of this fantastic theraputic environment and Shirley has sent the message, loud and clear! As a Juilliard graduate and former Music Therapy student I related even more to Ms. Fischler's keen observations. I am also a neighbor of hers both in the Catskills and in NYC; she on 110th and I'm on 101st and B'way. I've been reading her faithfully for years and am always impatient for her Saturday/Sunday columns since she is, in so many ways, Mother Earth to us. I, we, love her and am praying for her return to the blessed good health she so deserves. All my Love, dear Shirley, from a devoted follower, always yours, Peter Simmons

We have collected over 150 brand new baseball type caps - some plain, some with sports logos, cities, cartoon characters. Might these be useful to any of your patients (children or adults)? I can deliver them! Please reply to

Beth, thanks for reaching out. We will speak to someone about this and contact you at the email address you provided about your kind offer. Happy holidays!

That's great. I will look forward to hearing from you after the holidays. Happy New Year!

I spent 10 days at the hospital and I visited the Patient Recreation Pavilion every day for hours sometimes for specific activity, sometimes just to hang out and play cards or scrabble with my family and when days were nice to catch the sun in the outdoor terrace. It was definitely therapeutic mentally because I did not think about my pain while at the center. Also my family when visiting me used the center for its activities. I would like to commend the hospital for having such a great idea and even more I would like to commend the staff in the recreation center. They are extremely considerate and were always encouraging everyone to try a new activity like water coloring or join in the group fun (casino evening, bingo, Ritz NY pastry chef visit,etc.) . For any future patients, my advice is utilize this facility because it creates such a great positive vibe and beats being in the patient room! Once again thank you very much to the staff at the rec center


The patio, library, and lounge are great alternatives to the waiting rooms. It's nice to be able to eat lunch while getting some sun, and then relax in a comfy chair and read or get a card game going with other people. One suggestion however: The outdoor patio looks like it could use some TLC. My son did a similar project to become an Eagle Scout and wondered if it is possible to volunteer to help fix it up. After all, NY has some great rooftop spots, why not MSK?

Cindy, thank you so much for your offer to help! This is a project that is already ongoing, with several departments are involved in the effort. There is not a need for volunteers at this time. Thank you for your comment.

During my 40 day stay I frequented the 15th floor alone and with my family. It kept me busy entertained and smiling. I have memories of the friends that I met and sat with there. Some are home and some didn't make it but my memory of them making dream catchers with me will always remain.

Your 15th floor Pavilion is a god-send! My brother was an in-patient for many months. All the projects, colors, volunteers, hopeful faces, each and every one of you made an enormous contribution to me -- boosting my spirits, and re-fueling me to return to my brother's bedside. I pored through the magazines & picture-books, dabbled in several craft projects, heard a number of wonderful concerts. Bravo to the generosity of the genies who have given us all this gift. Some day I hope to become a genie too!

Siri, thank you for your kind words! We are so pleased that the Pavilion was able to help lift your spirits.

I spent almost a year at MSK. I resided on several floors depending on the need of my treatment at any given time. But I really “lived” on the 15th floor Pavilion. I was first introduced to the space on Thanksgiving Day. The staff turned the recreation room into a family parlor. My extended family joined me at the tables for turkey and all the trimmings that they brought from home. During the Christmas season my friends and I enjoyed several wonderful, top-notch concerts there. I was even lucky enough to see Pope Francis when he visited New York. The hospital staff and patients gathered at the windows as he stopped his motorcade at the hospital to give his Papal blessings from the street below. During the winter, I visited the Pavilion daily to get lost in the library or play cards and board games. But my real love was how the staff used flowers and plants to decorate and celebrate the seasons. Many an early sunrise or dusky sunset was relished on the terrace. During spring and summer I spent every afternoon basking in the sunlight “outside.” I even made friends with a “neighbor” in a penthouse apartment across the street that had the same daily habits as mine. We’d wave or salute each other like clockwork. Everyday epiphanies and simple abundances were mine because of the ritual of restoration on the 15th floor.

Dear Pamela, we’re so glad to hear you were able to take advantage of the Patient Recreation Pavilion while you were at MSK. Thank you for your comment, and best wishes to you.

I am a patient of Dr. Pastowe and have not been able to utilize the TR space as at a different location. My daughter is getting her masters in Recreational Therapy and looking for an internship in Spring 2019. How our family would love to have her help other with cancer! Any help would be great

Dear Kerri, our Patient Recreation Department does not have an internship program, but we are always looking for volunteers there. If your daughter is interested in volunteering she can go to this page for more information:

Thank you for your comment, and best wishes to both of you.