Sunday, August 25, 2002

Children's Hospital tower unveiled

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The public got its first peek at the new eight-story patient care tower at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center Saturday, complete with steel drum music and hands-on cultural exhibits.

        The $70 million brick-and-concrete tower in Corryville, which officials call “The New World of Children's,” was open for a community open house Saturday as part of a grand-opening celebration that started Thursday.

        At 447,300 square feet, Location A includes facilities for cancer, cardiac, orthopedic, neurological and psychiatric care. It features an industry-leading bedside computer record-keeping system, a new nurse call system and a chapel.

        “I think it's real cool,” said 12-year-old Danielle Capps of Westwood, who has visited the hospital frequently since breaking her legs in May. “I want to come back to look at all the stuff.”

        The tower is the culmination of a four-year, $155 million building project. Services will begin phasing into the building in September.

        The tower increases the hospital's overall capacity about 13 percent, from 330 beds to 373 beds. All rooms will be private - a welcome change for Margaret and David Perry, who have been by the bedside of their five children, ages 11 years to 16 months, when they've had stitches or gotten sick.

        “It's becoming more family-friendly,” said the 41-year-old father from Westwood. “It supports the family of the sick child, not just the sick child.”

        Visitors of the “New World” had passports that could be stamped during tours of the tower. A health fair gave families a chance to ask questions about services.

        “Sick kids don't feel sick here,” said Anitra Wooten, a 20-year-old mother of two. “Most hospitals you walk in, and you know it's a hospital. But this doesn't feel like a hospital.”

        The artwork from various cultures and stained glass windows impressed Luwana Pettus-Oglesby, whose seven children have used the hospital's clinics.

        “It's just soothing,” the 43-year-old Avondale woman said. “With all the colors, it's just so inviting. ...It's like an extension of home.”

        Since starting at Children's Hospital in 1957, licensed practical nurse Eloise Blathers has watched in amazement as the facility expanded from a couple of small buildings. But the 67-year-old Madisonville resident, who retired in 1998, still misses the days when co-workers were not spread so far apart.

        “We're excited to see it grow with each new step,” she said. “But you still miss the old.”


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