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Golisano Children’s Hospital to open May 10

April 5, 2017
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Pine Island Eagle

A sea of bright colors, beautiful photographs of either patients or the staff's children, floor greeters, kid-friendly spaces and a great deal of privacy for families encompass the new Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida, which will open on May 10.

There were more than 500 design meetings held, which included input from a family advisory group. Some of those family members saw the hospital for the first time Friday morning.

"This is surreal for us, the experience today. Joey was born at 27 weeks as a 2- pound micro preemie. Jennifer's water broke at 21 weeks. So he spent 92 days in the NICU," Nick Naples said.

Article Photos

Sparkle is one of the new Golisano Children's Hospital mascots.


Golisano Children's Hospital Chief Administrative Officer Kathy Bridge-Liles said the hospital will open with 128 beds, with a capacity to increase to 160.

"We don't ever want to have to send a child away," she said.

The design of the hospital incorporated "Everything Under the Sun in Southwest Florida."

"We kind of took each floor and had a theme of things Under the Sun in Southwest Florida and then we color coded it," Bridge-Liles said.

The tour showcased the yellow "Sunny and Sparkle" first floor, the orange "Pearl" second floor, the purple "Blossom" third floor and the green "Scoop" sixth floor.

"We have a floor greeter and a color for every floor. Every floor looks alike, so if we didn't do something like that it really would have been easy for parents to have a hard time finding their way," she said.

The first floor, the Tom Golisano Mr. Sunshine Floor, contains administration, a chapel, the Cohen Family Garden, a community room, endoscopy, gift shop, guest services, registration, a performance stage and the main entrance.

"The most interesting thing about this floor is that there is no emergency department on that floor. The pediatric emergency department is on the second floor. Based on very recent regulations, we could not build the pediatric emergency room on the first floor because of the flood surge and hurricanes here in Florida," Bridge-Liles.

The tour continued to the sixth floor, the pediatric surgical unit, which provided services for medical and surgical patients.

Lee Health Vice President Facility Management Dave Kistel said this entire barrel is lit up due to LED lighting. When going into the patient rooms, the child can control the lights they want in their window - one color, or multiple colors.

Every room also has a PlayStation 4. Bridge-Liles said when children come to the hospital they have to make their life as normal as possible.

"If they can play their game, watch their favorite TV shows, it really is a great distraction," she said.

Bridge-Liles said what really distinguishes them as a real "children's" hospital is that they have various techniques as diversions for children. Some of those include a music therapist and a school teacher.

"If they are here for two weeks and they are well enough to go back to school they don't want to be behind. The teacher contacts the classroom that they are in and finds out what they are working on," she said. "The music therapist helps the children write songs, which is amazing. Songs about their experience. We not only meet the medical needs of the children, but the psychological and social needs and make it the best experience we can."

Kistel said a couple of things that were really important to families was to be able to stay in the rooms with their children. The furniture in the rooms include a couch that inverts easily into a bed. The couch also includes outlets where a computer, and phone could be plugged in, as well as a leaf that could be used for a desk. The room also included two televisions - one that the child could see from their crib, and another the adults could see from the couch.

"We want them to be able to go out and be normal kids again," Golisano Children's Hospital Medical Director Dr. Emad Salman said. "Whether it is simple things like brushing their teeth every day, going to the bathroom, waking up doing homework. After they are done with whatever hospitalization of why they are here, we want to make sure they can still go back to school and not let the hospitalization be a determent to them."

Another feature included steps that could be pulled out from under the sink. In an effort to give the patient and their family enough privacy and quietness, a cabinet is installed in the room that can be assessable from both the hallway and within the room.

"This is a lot of different supplies that are brought in and restocked when needed. The restocking takes place in the corridor and the physician will access it from this side," Kistel said while standing in the room. "We are trying to reduce the number of people coming into the room when they don't necessarily have to."

The floors also include a huddle top for the nurses and doctors, providing them with a space where they can discuss their patient's care with their laptops.

The third floor, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, surgery and milk lab to process and store breast milk, was also showcased during the tour.

"When a family comes to visit a child that is sick in the hospital there is a lot of anxiety and apprehension as you approach the hospital because you don't know what to expect and you always think the worst," Nick said.

He said it was important that the interior of the hospital was very family oriented, kid-friendly, soothing colors and pictures that depicted happy children.

"The old NICU, the way it was in the hallway we would walk down a long hallway with just white bare walls and then turn the corner and walk down another white hallway and there were the doors," Nick said. "From what I have seen so far they have gone above and beyond."

He said the hospital was like Disney World, a place where kids could come and feel safe.

"The old NICU where Joey was there were like 16 kids to a single room in their giraffe beds. Now what we are going to see is private rooms and that is very important for families to have that privacy," Nick said. "That will have a tremendous positive impact for families."

The third floor has 64 NICU beds, which are divided into "neighborhoods" complete with lights outside of the rooms. The average nurse to patient ratio is two to one with a nurse station between the two rooms.

Bridge-Liles said with neonates alarms go off very frequently because they kick their feet, sometimes the monitor does not pick up their oxygen or the heart rate. She said they have invested in a volt communication system, with all the alarms going directly to the nurse's phones.

The individual rooms are divided into three sections, the nurse, the giraffe warmer for the baby, and the family. The family, again has the opportunity to sleep in the room with the couch turning into a bed. The family section also has a curtain that can be closed when the family has a light on, or the television.

The NICU rooms also include a breast milk refrigerator, a breast milk warmer and a breast pump.

The last floor, the second floor included such amenities as the Ronald McDonald Family Room, family laundry, Greenleaf Grill and a library and business center.

Kistel said parents said they did not want to leave the facility when their child was at the hospital. He said the Ronald McDonald House provide $1 million donation for the room, which they will staff and provide food. The family room is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., allowing family members to go to a relaxed setting.

The Johnson family, Lisa and Chris, shared what a Ronald McDonald Family Room meant to them.

Lisa said their son, Chase, was diagnosed in 2012 with leukemia and spent two years at the hospital.

"We lived here for practically two years, so it was important for us to have a place to go for all of us," she said.

Chris said until you are in that life, you do not realize how many holidays and birthdays you spend in the hospital.

"When your child is in the hospital you don't want to leave them to go home," Lisa said.

Close to 200 staff members were hired for the Golisano Children's Hospital for a total of 700 employees.



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