Nationwide puts final touches on 'largest pediatric expansion' ever

New campus features 'magic forest' and a 1,400 gallon aquarium

Nationwide Children's Hospital next week will open a new 293-bed hospital, the "crown jewel" of its $786 million campus expansion.

Need for expansion
Nationwide Children's announced the project in 2005, seeking to better serve the hospital's soaring inpatient and outpatient demand. Administrators expect patient visits to surpass 1 million this year, nearly twice 2002 levels, partly because of the hospital's growing network. About 3.4% of patients now come from beyond its 37-county service area, up from 2.5% in previous years.

The expansion was funded through a mix of operating reserves, debt, and fundraising. However, construction costs came in $54 million under budget, reflecting how the nation's economic slowdown has helped lower construction demand and prices.

Practical design
The new hospital was conceived to minimize patient and family exposure to disturbing foot traffic and workflow.

Designers stationed work and educational areas in the hospital's core, keeping busy care providers at a distance from the periphery, where patients and their families receive care. They also placed computers on portable carts so that nurses could work outside patient rooms.

“The way that the space is laid out just does so much to mitigate the stress and anxiety of being in a hospital,” says Steve Allen, Nationwide Children's president and CEO.

Other features include:

  • Patient rooms with pull-out couches for two and a recliner;
  • Spaces where family member can safely stow luggage and valuables;
  • Elevator ceilings decorated to protect the patients' eyes from bright light as they lie on stretchers; and
  • Access to certain trauma rooms when accompanied by a social worker, intended to let families witness the hospital do everything in their power for their patients. 

The new hospital also will include a 1,400-gallon freshwater aquarium in the ED and a “magic forest” of tall, false trees with recorded sounds—from bird chirps in the morning to cricket chirps in the evening—that change with the time of day and season (Sutherly, Columbus Dispatch, 6/10).

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