The new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan marks a new era of children's health care. Trillium Hibbeln shares behind-the-scenes insights from her unique perspective as a mom who served as project leader during the planning, construction and transition into the new children's hospital.
I bet you could share some experiences about the "fussy eaters" in your family.As a mom, feeding your child can be one of the most rewarding aspects of parenting.For me, there is nothing better than seeing a baby or toddler happily eating.
But imagine a child who does not know how to eat or is physically unable?
Food is love of course, and it can be frustrating and scary for parents whose child has a feeding problem.
On the other end of the spectrum are the children who need extra education on nutrition, healthy food choices and weight management. Our newly opened Healthy Weight Center is designed to help children with obesity in a family-centered care approach. You can learn more about what we are doing about the problem of childhood obesity here.
Both of these centers are unique to children's hospitals, and in fact are rare enough even among children's hospitals. The Intensive Feeding Program is the only one of its kind in Michigan and one of only a handful in the country. The Healthy Weight Center is participating in a National Association of Children's Hospitals project to design a standardized, measureable approach to reduce obesity which now affects one in three children in America.
I am proud to point out that both of these programs result from community philanthropic support of the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital Foundation which makes possible the life saving work of our pediatric specialists.
What wisdom and advice can you share about helping a child with feeding problems?
I bet you would be surprised to learn that kids in the children's hospital want to keep up with their schoolwork.
It's true. My friend Emmy David is a teacher and educational liaison who works with hospitalized children so they don't fall behind with their studies.
Emmy says, "Having school at the hospital helps normalize things for kids. It gives them structure, routine and a familiar environment. And it helps them stay connected with their classmates."
I first met Emmy when she joined the child life team in 2008. As a former teacher myself, I was quickly impressed with her background. Emmy has more than 10 years of teaching experience including international tenure at elementary schools in the Philippines, Bolivia and Egypt. She earned a bachelor's degree in education from Eastern Michigan University and is pursuing graduate work at Washington State University.
Emmy works closely with each child's own school teacher to provide individualized instruction for children in the hospital. Emmy is also available for students receiving prolonged outpatient treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and dialysis.
Yes, kids in the hospital have to do their homework, and when it is time to return to school Emmy helps ease the transition back to the classroom. She confers with the child's teacher to discuss the impact the child's health may have on schoolwork and she helps parents prepare for Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings when necessary.
Thanks to support from the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital Foundation, Emmy has the equipment and resources she needs such as laptop computers, science materials, and books. She is even able to connect the child to the classroom teacher via Skype video technology when available.
I am excited for Emmy about the new classroom space she has on Floor 9 in the hematology/oncology section of the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.
So, next time your children complain about having to do homework, you can tell them that even kids in the children's hospital have to do their homework!
When we rushed my infant daughter Sofina to the children's hospital with a suspected heart problem I was amazed to see the team of pediatric specialists waiting for us when we arrived in the emergency department.
I was so grateful pediatric cardiologist Sam Lacina, MD, was there. He quickly diagnosed what was wrong and started treatment that saved my daughter's life.
Since that day eight years ago I have come to appreciate the difference of a hospital that specializes in children.
Nowhere else in West Michigan would I have found a multidisciplinary team that included pediatric specialists in emergency medicine, cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery, anesthesiology, radiology and pediatric critical care medicine. In addition, Sofina received care from nursing, respiratory therapy and pediatric clinical pharmacists.
As frightened parents of a critically ill newborn we were comforted by the depth and breadth of Sofina's medical team. But we were also overwhelmed, worried, scared and wondering about her future.
Just as comforting, the medical team understood that and helped us cope. The doctors took lots of time to sit with us, to answer our questions, and to explain what was going on in terms we could understand.
My friend Dr. Jeri Kessenich is the director of the pediatric residency program here, and learning to listen to families is part of the training because parents know their child best. She says, "with children's medicine, there is no substitute for time. Our goal is to be in continuous conversation with our patients and their families."
I am wondering what your experiences have been with a child's illness and what wisdom you can share about helping parents to cope.
It is three weeks already since the 1-11-11 opening of the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital and I thought I should check back in and let you know how it is going.
We have been very busy right from the start in all areas of the children's hospital. Last week we had our first open heart surgery case in the new facility and our first brain surgery was completed in the first week.
Yesterday, our cardiac catheterization lab opened for its first case. More than 200 children a year will have cardiac catheterizations in the new children's hospital. This minimally invasive procedure can diagnose and treat a variety of congenital heart problems in children.
You can help us share the news about our emergency department. Although on average more than 100 children a day are coming to the new pediatric emergency department, many kids are still showing up at the former emergency department location in Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital. We don't turn these kids away, first we have to assess and stabilize before bringing the kids through Butterworth Hospital to Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.
Kids will get emergency care faster and more effectively by coming directly to the new children's hospital emergency department. The entrance is on Bostwick Street, off Michigan Street. Parents can drive right up to the emergency department entrance and leave the car for valet parking while you bring your child directly inside for triage.
I have enjoyed reading your comments on Facebook about your experiences in the new children's hospital. It felt good to read a post from a mom who said the care her son received was "worth the drive from Traverse City."
My friend Shari Schwanzl, the Vice President of Nursing shared two stories with me. She heard a young boy tell his mom at discharge that he wanted to come back to the children's hospital with his friends for his7th birthday party to have pizza and ice cream and shop in the Gift Shop.
Another mom told Shari "Your people live up to your new building."
As parents we want what is best for our children. We carefully select our child's doctor, make sure our children get the right schooling they need and we can be very particular about what they eat, what they wear, and who their friends are.
Since my daughter Sofina was hospitalized shortly after her birth 8 years ago, I have learned that not all health care for children is the same. There truly is a difference in a hospital that is "all kids, all the time."
However, I have seen research that indicates parents' first choice for their child's health care is usually based on the convenience of going to a local hospital. To some degree this makes sense; parents are likely to rely on the local hospital if their child was born there, or if their physician practices there.
But is your local hospital adequately prepared, in terms of staffing and equipment to handle a pediatric medical emergency? Nearly 90 percent of emergency visits by children take place in non-children's hospital settings. Yet only 1 of 20 hospital emergency rooms are prepared to appropriately treat a child according to a recent survey.
Beyond emergency care, children have better health outcomes and a better experience in a hospital where everything and everyone is dedicated and trained to care for children.
Why children's hospitals are better prepared is because we care for "all kids, all the time." Children's hospitals attract a critical mass of pediatric specialists, and as a result, the expertise and the equipment to provide state-of-the-art health care for kids.
Helen DeVos Children's Hospital has the only ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machine in West Michigan for lifesaving treatment of babies with acute lung disease. Dedicated pediatric radiology equipment, including two magnetic resonance imaging machines, MRI and a dedicated cardiac catheterization lab to treat children's heart problems are just a few examples.
At home our children's rooms are personal spaces where they feel comfortable and safe.Designing the inpatient rooms for the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital was motivated by this ideal. Our employees know that when children come to the hospital they bring family with them, parents, siblings, sometimes grandparents. So our first goal was to make the patient rooms large enough to accommodate a child's family while also providing efficient space for caregivers to treat the child.
Every child will have a spacious (330 square feet) private room in which two parents may stay overnight on a comfortable convertible sofa bed. There is a private bathroom with tub and shower. The rooms include a small refrigerator and a flat screen TV with movies on demand connected to a video gaming system.
We involved families in the design of the rooms and asked what amenities were important. Our Family-Centered Care Advisory Council played an important role and their advice was invaluable. Early on in the construction process, mock patient rooms were built in the basement level so caregivers and families could check them out. Right away parents commented that the bathrooms needed a tub, not just a shower, especially for younger children. So that change was made.
Parents told us that small comforts would mean a lot to help relieve the stress of their child being sick. Having a meal together in the child's room, or even having a family kitchen space in the hospital would allow families to keep comfortable rituals. Having laundry facilities, wireless internet, private consultation rooms, and even quiet spaces for a parent to relax were all suggestions that have been implemented.
During one of the art making sessions at LaFontsee Galleries my kids were asked to draw what they imagined a child's hospital room might look like. My daughter Sofina drew herself in the bed, surrounded by four chairs. She explained that the chairs were for our family to sit in and visit with her, which she remembered from her hospitalization after heart surgery.
It was fun during community day tours to hear comments from kids and parents that the patient rooms were above and beyond expectations.
If you visited us during community day, what did you think of the patient rooms?I would love to hear your thoughts.
Earlier this summer I wrote about my son Lucas breaking his arm in a fall from the monkey bars. We learned a lesson about pre-hospital emergency care for children, and in particular, about the value of having specialists trained in pediatric radiology perform the X-rays and read and interpret the results.
My friend, pediatric radiologist Brad Betz, MD, explains that because kid's bodies are still growing and developing it has an impact on what he and his colleagues look for when reading an X-ray.
Fractures may involve the growth plates in a child's bone. Correct diagnosis will guide the pediatric orthopaedic surgeon in setting the bone properly so the bone will continue to grow normally.
Equally important in a child's X-ray exam is the amount of radiation, according to Dr. Betz. Children's bodies need to have the lowest possible dose of radiation from an X-ray or other diagnostic exam. The radiology equipment used at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital is state-of-the-art, including two CT scanners and two magnetic resonance imagers. Dr. Betz says, "our radiation doses have always been among the lowest of all children's hospitals."
The experience of a child having a diagnostic radiology exam is also something the pediatric radiology team takes very seriously, because they want to make it as pleasant as possible. For radiology exams that take a long time and require the child to lie very still, sometimes radiology works closely with pediatric sedation services to administer an appropriate dose of anesthesia or conscious sedation.
Child life services also has dedicated specialists who work in radiology to help prepare children for what to expect. They use medical play, and even guided imagery or video goggles to occupy the child during the exam, and often make it possible for the child to have the exam without sedation.
As a mom I take comfort in knowing that specialists like Dr. Betz and his radiology team are doing the utmost to provide the best and safest care for my child.
As you can imagine, the past few days since 1-11-11 have been pretty busy so I have not had time to bring you up to date on how wellthings are going in the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.
It is amazing to walk the halls and see that the work of healing has begun.
After many months when the building had only construction workers and other adults inside, now there are kids everywhere and it feels so good to see them here. We all feel very proud.
In the lobby the "PlayMotion" wall is just as captivating as we thought it would be (okay, we adults already proved that before we even opened). Funny, yesterday to hear one observer say:"Are those real kids or are they actors, this looks like a commercial for your children's hospital watching those kids play at that wall."
For me, seeing families together in the spacious patient rooms, and a dad bringing pizza from the Balk Cafe up to his son's room, and hearing the positive comments is just so rewarding.
A colleague relayed this story about a friend he saw in the cafeteria waiting for his son's diagnostic procedure to be done. The gentleman is a hotel executive and he commented, "When I came to your welcome desk I was treated like a guest in my own hotel. Tell everyone to keep up the good work."
Already the new children's hospital is busy with patients, in fact, we have nearly a "full house."All six operating rooms are in use, the sedation and radiology areas are busy, and the emergency department is running at full throttle.
The positive media coverage has made everyone feel very good knowing the impact we are having on children and their families.
This week we become fully operational when we open the 10th floor hematology/oncology infusion center and the outpatient cardiology center.
I wonder what you are hearing about the new Helen DeVos Children'sHospital?What experiences do you have to share.?
Day one, the move is done. Random thoughts and observations, remember I have been here since 4 a.m.
Eighty two patients were successfully moved into the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital by 2:33 p.m. The business of healing has begun.
Seven scheduled surgeries were completed and three additional cases were added for a total of 10 so we opened a third operating room.
After 8 patients were moved from the old pediatric critical care unit, we admitted 5 new patients, one of whom was airlifted here on AeroMed at 4 a.m.
One patient moving from 9 Center to 6 arrived in her room at 1:11 p.m. on 1-11-11 which brought smiles to all of us in the Command Center.
Tara Werkhoven, a friend from the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital Foundation, came through the lobby with the news that her 8 year-old-nephew had just been treated in the emergency department. Tara said the boy had injured his knee playing soccer in school, and was brought to the new ED for X-rays. "They gave him a teddy bear and a "What Makes You Happy" book, Tara said smiling. "X-rays were negative, it was just a bad sprain."
We are hearing that some children are still showing up at the former ED at Butterworth Hospital. They are being assessed and stabilized and we are taking them through Butterworth to the new children's ED.
Our friends in the Balk Cafe made 217 pizzas today that were delivered to employees working throughout the children's hospital.
Check out this beautiful photo of the new HDVCH from Carl Turek of the pre-dawn sky on 1-11-11.
One of our pediatric outpatient phlebotomists was in the lobby for the first time today, she kept wiping away tears, so emotionally overwhelmed at how beautiful the new building is, and how much fun it will be for patients.
1-11-11 is here and our patients are on the move into the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. It is very exciting and rewarding for all of us who have been here since 4 a.m.
I am sitting in the Command Post monitoring the patient move. We have a large flat screen monitor up on the wall which shows us exactly where each patient is at any given time. Our sending and receiving coordinators are calling in each time they are ready to send a patient along the tour route, when they reach the mid-way point and when they are received in the new building.
It's been really cute to hear some of the commentary that has come over the radio airways. One message that came through was, "we have patient #5 passing the mid-way point and he is the cutest 10 month old ever!" Another message: "A one-year-old passing the mid-point, contentedly sucking her thumb."
As of 9:45am, we had safely moved 20 patients into the new building. We were about 20 percent of the way through the move and on time at that point. We continue to assess the situation minute by minute. Our business is very unpredictable. We have had children arrive via ambulance, AeroMed helicopter and car.
In addition to our scheduled surgeries, we have several additional surgeries that have been added on to the caseload in the operating room. Three surgeries have already been completed successfully.
I hope you have been following our progress on Facebook and Twitter. The news media coverage has been outstanding. I had so much fun being interviewed on live television, sharing our excitement of this very special day.
We have also discharged our first patient. One of our very special girls was so determined to see the new hospital before she went home, that we actually transferred her to the new hospital and then discharged her from there. She said it was important that she get to go to the new hospital, "because she's going to be president some day!"
I am so excited that it is finally here, tomorrow we open the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital and about 100 children are expected to be part of the big move of our patients.
Our president, Dr. Bob Connors gathered us together in the cafeteria of the new hospital this afternoon for last minute briefings.
In his quiet, calm way (he is a surgeon after all) Dr. Connors said, "To think that this day is actually coming after all these years of planning, and hoping and building, it is a surreal feeling almost. Tomorrow, there will be kids all over the place here, and that is a good thing, because this will be the right place for kids."
Dr. Connors looked around at all of us and added, "You all have been running a marathon for the past year or more, now it is like a 100 meter dash sprint to the finish."
Our two hospital chaplains then did a prayer of blessing. I found myself nodding at these words, "ease our anxieties, calm our fears, comfort our spirits, give us the strength and courage and attention to details so we can focus on our healing mission in this new space."
We heard from our nursing leaders coordinating the move that over the weekend they had the chance to tour some of the parents of children who will be moving, to get their new family ID badges taken care of and to help acclimate the parents to the new space.
"What a rewarding experience it was for me to be able to do that," Gretchen Koeman said. "The parents were so excited and so grateful." Sue Teman added, that she felt good to feel appreciated by the parents who said the tour helped alleviate their anxieties.
Over the weekend those of you in our Facebook fan community probably discovered that we have now reached 20,000 fans (which by the way is the 7th largest of any hospital in the nation).
I shared with my colleagues one Facebook comment from a mom that really touched me, and I hope, serves to remind all of us, that our work here is really a sacred trust with the families of our patients: "The service has always been excellent, my child has had 7 surgeries in two years, and more to come. The new building is beautiful but it is the superb staff who make all the difference."
Will you be following our progress tomorrow?
You can keep track of our move on Facebook and on our Twitter site. Look for #newhdvch on Twitter.
Today is a special day for me, personally as well. My son Lucas turns 11 today. Happy Birthday Lucas! It has been so wonderful to see this new children's hospital through his eyes, and that of my daughter, Sofina.
At 3 p.m. today as we were about to hold our first "Go-No-Go" meeting for the 1-11-11 patient move into the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, Shari Schwanzl, vice president, nursing and patient care services, hustled into the room and announced: "Let's Go!"
I looked around the table at smiling faces and colleagues holding "thumbs up."
We are ready to move.
In our planning we had assembled 8 potential criteria that would determine if we are ready. The list had two columns, with check boxes: pass" or fail.
Just to be certain, we went around the room to the operational leaders responsible and asked for their assessment. All clinical and operational areas are ready. Check.
There is not a current disaster in the health system or in the city. Check.
There are no major technology issues preventing the move. Check.
Another call to the National Weather Service said Tuesday will "not be too snowy" to prevent our employees from getting safely to work. Check.
We have sufficient staff even though the current children's hospital space is very busy with sick patients. Check.
The elevators are fully operational and there are no facilities or campus issues that would prevent a move. Check.
I looked around at the calm faces in the room of my colleagues who have worked tirelessly for more than a year to get us to the point.
Everybody is itching and ready to go, one nursing leader said, "let's just get in there already."
There are still last minute things to do, but at that moment, I let out a big sigh and said wow.
How close are we to being ready to move in to the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital five days from now?
The big news that brought a smile to everyone's faces today in our pre "Go - No Go" meeting was that the Slush Puppee machines have arrived, and there will be one on each unit. The red "Hawaiian Punch" flavor, everyone's favorite, will be the official flavor.
In our current space there is only one "slushee" machine on 7 South, and everyone raids it to bring treats to their patients. So the news that "Bob from Grand Rapids Popcorn" had come through with the slushee machines was welcomed by all.
For kids who are sick and in the hospital, the little comforts, like a slushee are the kinds of things that remind us that "kids need more than medicine to get well."
The same is true for the employees, and today was a great bonding experience spurred by, what else, free pizza.
Our Balk Cafe employees did a trial lunch today, offering free pizza, salad, soup and of course, ice cream and coffee for some employees who will be working in the new children's hospital.
I had the Chef Special, which was a white pizza with ham, mozzarella, artichokes and sun dried tomatoes and garlic. The fresh made dough was soft, warm and the crust had just the right crunch. The toppings were a wonderful blend of flavors.Of course, I picked the worst time of year to start an online Weight Watchers program, so my friends and I looked up the point value for the pizza on our smart phones, and figured we would be okay.
Next to me one of my friends was raving about the pumpkin, apple, bacon soup. He shared a taste and it was delicious.
There was a constant line at the ice cream window and it was fun to see the smiles on the faces of adults licking big scoops of ice cream out of waffle cones. I can only imagine how much the kids will enjoy it 5 days from now.
Having our own lunch space was a great opportunity for employees from all areas to get together and the buzz and positive atmosphere was electric.
There are no "game changer" issues at the moment so it looks like all systems are go!
When we started planning in earnest about 16 months ago for the patient move scheduled on 1-11-11into the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital we sat down and determined a set of "go/no criteria."
We game-planned what things could possibly cause us to delay our move.The most probable scenario was a big winter weather situation. Many of our employees commute some long distances from all over West Michigan to work here.
Since we know we will need extra hands for move day, a big storm that would keep people from being able to report to work could potentially delay our move.
I have been watching the weather with more interest than usual. Thankfully the 10 day forecast looks good for our move. Even the "Old Farmer's Almanac" looks favorable for 1-11-11with only light snow flurries forecasted.
Like most parents any time it is snowing in the morning my kids are asking if school will be cancelled for the day. My kids love to sled, ski and play in the snow.I keep telling them, "There is lots of winter left, just not this week, please."
"Don't forget to clean out your refrigerators in your old unit."
The 1-11-11 countdown clock in the lobby says 7 today. One week until we move patients into the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.
Our preparation is getting down to the nitty gritty details now. My checklist of all the items that have to be done in the time remaining is winding down but there is lots to be done. Leaving the current children's hospital space behind has a checklist too, like reminders to clean out the refrigerators.
We are all going over operational plans, and sharing reminders and updates, and having daily "huddles" to review progress.
As I walk through the new units, I see staff and physicians preparing their spaces, stocking supplies, testing equipment, practicing and drilling to ensure that they are completely ready for next week.
There is a new energy in the building, seeing the staff making themselves at home. I feel everyone's mix of excitement and nerves, just like any big event that you've been planning for years.
The pace of things continues to pick up with each hour and each day being so important to the final move day.I am amazed to come in every morning to reports of all the work that has been done overnight.And then I get to see the results during my rounds: like the shower curtains being installed and the new trash cans which were delivered yesterday.
Many thousands of decisions, details and plans are all coming together like a symphony to make one final push to 1-11-11.
"Remind staff to put their belongings into their new lockers on move day."
That is why the emergency department just for kids in the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital is going to be such a great resource.
Cynthia Norman, BSN, RN, CEN is the nurse manager of the emergency department. She explained the subtle signs that the emergency nurses and doctors look for to tell them when a child's condition is worsening.
Kids might not appear to be having trouble breathing, but Norman's team looks at the child's "work of breathing;" how much effort it takes for their rib cage to expand. The child may just act lethargic, may not be playing, or refuse an ice pop. The nurses will also ask the parent for advice if the child is looking or acting normally.
In a medical emergency, Norman explained that an entire team of specialists is ready to respond at any time day or night. The emergency department sees nearly 40,000 children a year now, so they are experts in caring for children in a hurry.
That means faster diagnoses, fewer tests, and quicker treatment for your child.
The design of the new emergency department will also make triage, diagnosis and treatment quicker and more convenient according to Norman.
The entrance to the emergency department on the corner of Michigan and Bostwick will allow parents to drive right up to the front door. Security will valet park the car in a garage underneath dedicated to emergency patient parking.
Parents will walk directly into triage where their child will be assessed, and assigned to an appropriate treatment room. Four ambulance bays are also dedicated to the new emergency department with an entrance that allows immediate access to trauma and resuscitation rooms.
The pediatric radiology department is located right next to the emergency department and the sedation program is adjacent as well so all of these resources are available at a moment's notice.
What kind of emergency situations have you experienced with your child?
My friend Jodi Bauers, CCLS, is one of our team of child life specialists whose job is to make the hospital experience fun for kids. Fun at a hospital? Who would have thought it possible?
There is a lot more to it than play and fun of course. Jodi and her team of 16 are all specialists in child development. Their job is to help kids cope with and understand what they are going through.
Child life specialists prepare kids for what to expect in terms they understand. They use "medical play" to let children experience in advance what it feels like to wear an anesthesia mask, or to have an MRI exam.
Any of us who was hospitalized as a child is likely to have a vivid memory of that experience. Jodi tells me that a traumatic hospital experience can mark a child for life, while a good experience can make a lasting good impression.
It starts with the child life specialist working with the child's health care team, and getting to know the child and the family. "We learn the family's story, and understand how the child learns and processes information." Jodi and her team take note of the child's age and developmental status and design an approach that may use play or even "guided imagery" to prepare a child for a procedure.
One of Jodi's colleagues, Shauna Boughey, CCLS, works with children in radiology. Imagine getting a wiggly four year old to lie still for 45 minutes in an MRI machine, a long noisy tube that can be claustrophobic. Some children need to be sedated during such an exam. Shauna has become adept at helping kids lie still by watching a movie wearing video goggles, or by teaching them the "freeze game" and using guided imagery to help the child imagine a calm peaceful place.
It is all about helping the child have some control over what is happening, giving them choices, and encouraging the child and family. Helping the parents to be prepared, and cope and role model for the child is just as important.
Child life services are typically found only at children's hospitals and we are so fortunate to have such a great team of advocates for the children in our care. A recent Grand Rapids Press profile of child life specialist Rhys VanDemark is a terrific example of the impact a child life specialist can have on children in the hospital.
Do you have a story to share about an experience with child life?
I have a few years to go before my children are teenagers (thank goodness) as they are only 10 and 8 years old now.
Some people think a children's hospital is "just for little kids" but that is a serious misconception.
Teens and preteens (or "tweens") need experts trained not only in the unique medical and developmental issues of adolescence. They need professionals trained in how to talk with and care for kids at this vulnerable time.
Our adolescent medicine team of board certified specialists is specially trained in caring for kids who are dealing with health issues that previously were common for people in their 20s. All of our physicians and employees are skilled at taking care of kids from 0-18 and making each one feel completely at home and understood.
Complex issues such as chronic diseases, ADHD, depression, mood disorders, reproductive and sexual health problems, and even domestic violence are just some of the challenges our physicians treat teens for and help them cope with.
Confidentiality is key with teens: while parents are included in their teen's care plan, there is also time for one-on-one private conversations between teen and doctor. "We've created a safe zone," says adolescent medicine specialist Lisa Lowery, MD.
What teen doesn't crave that?
It means involving a multidisciplinary team of caregivers including social workers and using a multi-media approach to "keep it real" for the teen patients.
When you are in the new hospital you will also notice that we didn't fill it with cartoon characters or other things that would make a teen feel like they didn't fit in. The décor is just as appropriate for teens as it is for little kids.
What are some of the health challenges you are facing with your teen and how are you coping?
The sonorous thumping of a drum filled the air, followed by the soft whistle of a flute. A song of prayer washed over me, then came the gentle recitation of a blessing.
I stood reverently in the corner watching and listening on the floor 8 pediatric critical care unit.
A Native American healer played the drum and flute as he went room to room. A Greek Orthodox priest sang hymns. An African American preacher stretched his arms wide, then clasped his hands in prayer, softly speaking his blessings.
Similar blessings were taking place on every floor of the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital and I could feel the collective power of the faith leaders assembled.
More than 50 religious leaders from the region participated in the multi-faith blessing, coordinated by Spectrum Health manager of pastoral care, The Reverend Steve Van Heest.I felt I could see a story in every face and I marveled at the diversity of race and gender and their dress and customs. Some wore resplendent robes, stoles and hats, others wore formal suits and collar. A cantor played a harmonium, an ancient instrument that looked like an accordion in a box.
First Rev. Van Heest gathered the clergy together in the lobby and lead the group in a responsorial prayer. (Read the prayer.)
The harmony of their voices filled the space as they prayed together. Then in small groups they went off to follow Rev. Van Heest's directive: bless each floor, each room, each healing space, all of the equipment and instruments of care. Each faith leader was invited to perform this blessing according to their own traditions.
Later when the clergy gathered in the floor 11 chapel Rev. Van Heest asked each to offer a one word wish: "peace," "healing," "community," "caring," were some of the wishes I heard.
Then I noticed the beautiful blue of the sky through the chapel skylight and felt all of the prayers and wishes for our new children's hospital had been heard.I felt that the building was fuller than it had been earlier that day and definitely more ready for our youngest, most vulnerable patients to enter its doors to be healed.
After all of these months of planning, we have finally been able to welcome the community to see our new home.We have been astounded at the turnout.We have all really enjoyed talking with moms, kids, grandmas and neighbors about how lucky we are to have a place like this in West Michigan.
A few of my favorite moments were:
Seeing a teenager try on a goofy dog mask in the gift shop
Watching a two year old girl put her ear up to the bubble wall to hear the sounds
Watching grown men laugh and play with the interactive wall
Hearing our employees beam with pride as they told the stories of the care they give
As you might imagine, one of the best moments was when I was able to show my own family what I have been working on.My husband, son, daughter, mother, father, brother and sister-in-law all came for employee family night on Sunday.I was able to bring Sofina, our eight year old, earlier in the afternoon to "volunteer."She helped CJ answer phones in our command post, which was very fun.At one point, CJ was calling in pretend phone calls and Sofina was answering like a pro.
We had a touching moment when we took the kids down to the surgery and cath lab areas.There, Sofina played with a doll that opens up at the chest to see where the organs are located.Ryan was working at that station and he told her how his own child had also had open heart surgery. We talked about how she was only one year old when she visited the cath lab.
All throughout the evening, Sofina was happy and having a great time.On our way home, I looked in the backseat and saw that she was crying.I asked her what was wrong and she said, "I can't believe I survived all of that, mom.I'm glad you work there.It's ok if you're not always home."
I have to thank my kids and my family for their support during this very busy time.Many employees are working long hours to prepare the hospital for opening.I hope all of their families also realize what a special opportunity we all have to be part of this.This really is a special place!
We had our first major donor event for the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital last night. I was impressed with the overwhelming support from our generous community, as evidenced by the people who came last night. Each one seemed truly connected to the mission of the hospital.
Some donors told me stories of their own children or grand children who had been sick and needed care. Another family said how fortunate they felt that their children and grandchildren were healthy and that is why they gave. I still can't believe that over 6,000 people gave gifts small and large to make this happen. We are so lucky to live in such a wonderful place!
Tomorrow at 10:30am we will dedicate this new building. As our guests public begin to tour the building, meet our experts and learn more, they will see why we are all so proud of what our community has built.
Dr. Connors tells a story of how kids view health care. They say," heal me, don't hurt me and be nice to me. " It sounds like a simple request, but it takes a lot of talented people who concentrate on these three things every day to make it come true.
Can't wait to meet you all at Community Day this Saturday. Have you called for your reservation yet? We want to make sure you have a wonderful experience. Bring comfortable shoes (because it's a big place) and come share our excitement!
They were the first thing I saw when I walked into the Sallie Bender Guild Gift Shop this afternoon.
"Glow in the dark spaghetti string."
The gift shop in the lobby of the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital is fully stocked with 4,000 different items, 20,000 pieces in all and ready for business during opening events this week.
I wandered around between meetings and found so many things I will be putting on my holiday shopping list for my kids.
The store is beautifully designed and displayed with large stuffed animals, and other decorative items. Monkey puppets hang off the columns around the cashier checkout desk. A comfy cubby provides a quiet place to sit and flip through the pages of a book.
Bins full of small items will be sure to attract the kids. I bet I could give both of mine a few dollars to pick out things they like.
A lovely yellow princess dress caught my eye. I thought, "what fun it would be to dress up in the hospital and pretend you were in a land of make believe."
Friendly looking fuzzy monster slippers, soft, warm hats labled "be kind," and tiny preemie jammies reminded me of what a great source of comfort these things will be to our patients.
An important feature will be the "discover safety" section of products designed to keep kids safe at home, at play and on the way. Our Safe Kids program consulted on the selection of these items that will help child proof any home.
I liked the colorful box of "ouchies" bandages too and then I saw the spiral bound journal booklets and thought of the journal we kept during my daughter, Sofina's hospitalization for open heart surgery.
Check out the pictures above which really help tell the story. But even better: make plans to come see the new gift shop yourself on Community Day and be ready to shop.
For those of you have been following our progress for the past 11 months, this week it gets very real. You are invited to come see the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in a special Community Day on December 4.
Follow that link for all you need to know and to schedule your visit. Please call our special telephone line: 616.776.9626 so you can reserve your tour. We want to make sure everyone has an exceptional experience during their visit.
You can also forward the Community Day preview link to your friends on Facebook or other social media such as Twitter and LinkedIn.
Today we began orientation sessions and tours for the staff who will be volunteering during opening events. There has been an amazing outpouring of staff from throughout Spectrum Health who have signed up to assist.
I was leading a tour this morning and asked my group of 15 how many were going to be working in the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. Only a few people people raised their hands. The rest were Spectrum Health colleagues from throughout the system.
I felt gratified that so many people share our excitement about what this new children's hospital will mean for kids and families that they are volunteering during their work time to help "show off" our new building.
Community Day will be your best opportunity to go "behind the scenes" and experience parts of the building you will never see unless you are a patient or the parent of one. It really is an amazing asset and resource for our community and our state. I can't wait to share it with you.
I have been meaning to tell you about a big milestone on our project that I missed being part of and how I learned another lesson of what a great team we have.
On November 16 we conducted an exercise to practice what it would be like to move patients from the current children's hospital space to the new hospital.
This "mock move" involved months of planning and preparation. A team led by nurse managers Gretchen Koeman and Sue Teman and Spectrum Health's disaster preparedness director Julie Bulson coordinated the efforts of dozens of staff members from nursing, respiratory therapy, patient transport, facilities, security and child life.
Their assignment: how to move about 100 children across two hospital wings, down several elevators, through busy patient care areas and safely into the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.
Children get moved around quite a bit already in our current children's hospital. They traverse the hospital buildings for diagnostic tests, sedation procedures, and to and from the operating rooms.
But, moving children on 1-11-11 is not expected to be a normal transport. Some of the kids are expected to be medically fragile, needing respiratory support, diagnostic monitoring, control of their pain, and reassurance that it will be safe and even fun.
The mock move team enlisted the help of students from Zion Christian School to practice. The students were each given a role to play: with information sheets for staff that the "patient" was of a certain age, with a particular diagnosis, and needing a certain level of support from nursing or respiratory therapists.
And there was another wrinkle, our communications team had invited the news media to cover the event, so we were all "on stage" in real time.
The week before the mock move, I was scheduled for a long planned trip out of the country, but had arranged to be back on the day of the exercise to observe from the "command post."
Alas, airplane trouble stranded me in Florida, so I had to follow the exercise via text messages on my smartphone.
I received the message that the first patient moved smoothly along the route and arrived safely in the new children's hospital in 10 minutes.
It was an emotional moment in the command post for the team monitoring the drill, one nurse said she was moved to tears, and soon everyone got a little misty eyed that it was all going according to plan.
In all about two dozen "patients" were moved safely and the exercise was deemed a success.
And I realized yet again that the hard work and preparation that all of staff has put in together over the last year is paying off. We have established a solid team who cover for each other, support each other, and are ready to open the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital on 1-11-11.
How many times have you seen your child howl in pain for something you can't believe hurts that much? Or, remember seeing your child get anxious and tearful just thinking about how much a vaccination might hurt?
Kids feel pain differently, and the anxiety and anticipation in their minds are often worse than the actual pain. As a parent, I think seeing your child in pain is one of the most difficult aspects of parenting.If only we could take it for them!
Sometimes kids are too young to really be able to tell how much pain they feel. Imagine asking a child how much something hurts on a scale of one to 10. So we use a special "pain scale" of pictures of children's faces, and ask them to point to the face that most closely matches how much pain they feel.
At Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, our philosophy is that as much as possible pain should be eliminated or controlled. Sometimes distraction helps, such as when a child life specialist encourages a child to "blow away the pain" into a pinwheel or by blowing bubbles while an injection is taking place.
In the emergency department our staff members use a quick acting analgesic device called a "JTip" that quickly numbs the skin to prevent the pain of injections.
For painful or invasive procedures a sedation team administers medicine that eliminates the pain and the memory of the event. More than 5,000 children a year receive sedation for procedures at the children's hospital.
I'll never forget the relief I felt at the moment when I realized that my daughter, while being wheeled off for surgery, was actually comfortable and happy because of some light sedation she had received.In fact, she was blowing bubbles as they took her to her surgery.If we make it easier for kids, it's also easier for the parents.
What experiences have you had with your child in pain, and what do you wish could have been done differently?
I just saw some unusual art work in the new children's hospital that caught my eye and found out there is a great story that goes with it.
The hallways on Floor C outside radiology feature some amazing images of robots made out of medical supplies. Diane Sinsabaugh, a pharmacist in our pediatric hematology/oncology program, brainstormed ideas with our art consultants at LaFontsee Galleries and decided to "recycle" used items from the pharmacy.
Diane and her coworkers in the pharmacy began saving materials they usually discarded, such as empty syringes (without the needles of course), tubing, pill boxes and other packaging materials, even plastic scissors.
Then Diane and the kids went to work creating the robots. No two robots are alike and it is nice to see some three dimensional artistic elements at work here behind the beautiful frames.
I know kids and families will enjoy seeing these unique pieces and all the other art work on display. I can't help but smile at the thought that our clinical staff are demonstrating their enthusiasm for the new building through their creative involvement with the children's art project.
We recently began tours for staff and physicians who will be working in the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. What fun for me to see the facility through their eyes!
Because our staff know the children who will be patients, the child-like enthusiasm of their reactions are wonderful to see and hear about from my friends and colleagues who are guiding the tours.
It starts right in the lobby of course.
Some nurses who toured the building one night were captivated by the huge mosaic mural.
Cell phone cameras came out and the nurses started snapping pictures, first of the mural, then of each other in front of the mural.
Then, their attention turned downward to the colorful patterns on the floor, and they noticed that the circles changed color when you step on them.
An impromptu "Zumba" dance broke out and their smiles and laughter and delight was infectious.
The nurses inspected the private patient rooms with a practiced eye, admiring the layout, the décor, and played with the new cribs and beds. They sat in the comfy chairs and tested the couches that convert to double beds for parents. The children's art work got rave reviews about what a great environment for healing it would foster throughout the facility.
Child life manager Jodi Bauers told me about the experience of two of her special volunteers she took on a brief tour. Kevin Heys, whogreets guests from his wheelchair in the hospital lobby and his mom Gwen, are champions of Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in many ways.Kevin was in awe of the new building as he cruised through the lobby in his powerchair.Gwen said she is so very happy for the kids and families to have this incredible, beautiful place to receive care. Kevin left with a huge smile on his face. It was pretty remarkable to get to see the hospital through Kevin's eyes - if only a glimpse, Jodi said.
I have heard similar comments from my colleagues who are conducting tours. One said, "I wish I could be a full time tour guide, it gets me so pumped up to see and hear the staff. Their 'wow factor' is pretty high."
If you were hospitalized as a child, I bet you remember it vividly.From my daughter's heart surgery experience, her most vivid memories are of having her blood drawn and how the nurses put stickers in her journal.
Imagine what a hospital looks like to your child. There is scary looking equipment, different sounds, people wearing masks and asking you questions. You aren't sleeping in your own bed, and being sick and taking medicine make you feel different than normal.
Children think differently than adults, so they need help understanding what to expect and to have their fears calmed with simple explanations in terms they understand.
Our pediatric specialists are trained to understand the ways kids think, and how to help them cope. You as parents and family members have a role too of course, because you understand your child better than anyone.
The world of a child is largely defined by their own experience, so they may think they are sick because they did something wrong. One of my friends told me he was in a line of traffic taking his daughter to the children's hospital for a dentist appointment and she asked, "is everyone going to the children's hospital, daddy?"
One of the ways that we made our daughter's experience more positive during heart surgery was by having her create a journal of her experiences.In this journal, I wrote down things she said (Like, "today, I'm going to get my heart fixed so I can run fast).
I had friends and the children's hospital staff and write Sofina a note in the journal.When the nurses gave Sofina stickers for being brave she and I put those in the journal together. Later I included pictures Sofina had painted in the playroom and photos I had taken.
To this day, Sofina is incredibly proud of this journal and continues to share it.She brought it to school again this year during "about me" time and showed her friends how brave and special she is.
Our staff believes that a traumatic hospital experience can mark a child for life, and a good experience, in which a child feels comfortable and safe, can be life changing.
I have noticed so many times when kids come back for follow up appointments and they are happy to see the staff who cared for them at the children's hospital.
What examples can you share about the way your kids think differently?
When I noticed something just was "not right" about my newborn daughter when I brought her home from the hospital, I learned an important lesson: to trust my mother's instinct, that gut feeling.
As families, we know our children better than anyone, we can tell with just a glance or by our child's tone of voice when they don't fell well.
My doctor validated my concerns and sent us directly to Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. I watched in amazement as a team of specialists surrounded Sofina and went right to work to save her life. Later, when Sofina was three she had open heart surgery, and you can see from the picture that she came through with flying colors.
Think of an entire hospital that puts families at the center of their child's care. At Helen DeVos Children's Hospital family-centered care is based on the core idea that the family knows best.
Our doctors and nurses put families at the head of the child's care team. They encourage families to participate in all of the care decisions, to speak up and ask questions.
Most important, we want families to share their wisdom with us. And we encourage as much as possible that families carry on their own traditions, and create as much of a home-like environment as possible.
We encourage parents to "room-in" with the child, have family meals together and provide the basic care of bathing, diaper changing and other duties they do at home.
Can you share a story about how you trusted your gut instinct about your child and it made all the difference?
My office is in the Helen DeVos Children's Outpatient Center so I see kids of all sizes when I walk the halls. I see moms with newborns in infant carriers, and strollers with twins, and sometimes high school football player sized kids.
At the children's hospital we have to care for kids of all sizes, so it has a big impact on the way we care for them. Think about blood pressure cuffs for example. Would you use the same blood pressure cuff on a baby as you would a teenager? Of course not.
We have a dozen different size blood pressure cuffs to fit all the sizes of children in our care. The tiny cuff that fits a preemie baby is about the size of a Band-aid.
Stocking different sizes of equipment includes surgical instruments, IV needles, masks, pajamas, wheelchairs and even beds. Just like at home where your baby sleeps in a crib, and it is a big deal when your toddler graduates to a "big girl" bed.
It has been eye-opening for me, seeing all of the different size equipment we have been stocking in the new children's hospital, but that is to be expected in a place that will be "all kids, all the time."
What has surprised you about the different needs of your children based on their differences in size? Do you know if your local hospital has the right sizes of equipment for kids?
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Despite all the books and magazine articles published about child rearing, when we have a question there is nothing more powerful than the experience of other moms and dads, and the collective wisdom passed down through generations of families.
Guests at the baby shower share advice with the expectant mom. Sometimes there are games, or people write suggestions on cards, (like how to get a crying baby back to sleep) and some moms actually get a journal including all the advice that was shared at the shower.
I learned about "baby wipe warmers" this way and also benefitted from advice about the importance of drinking water when you breastfeed so you don't get dehydrated.
Kids are different. Their health care needs are different. Moms and dads know this. That is why we are building a new hospital dedicated to caring for children.
A friend tells me how years ago he frantically scanned the index of Dr. Benjamin Spock's "Baby and Child Care" book for advice when his newborn daughter threw up her bottle on him at 2 in the morning. He wanted to know if she would still be hungry after he got her cleaned up. (The answer was "no" of course.)
My advice to you?
Trust your instincts.
Just days after bringing my infant daughter, Sofina, home from the hospital I just knew something was wrong. I didn't know what it was, but I knew I had to bring her to the doctor and fast.Without an appointment, we walked into her pediatrician's office.He sent us right to Helen DeVos Children's Hospital and at 8 days old the physicians and staff here saved her life.I didn't know exactly what was wrong, but I had that "feeling."Her pediatrician later told me that the mother or father's "feeling that something isn't right" is a strong indicator to him to really pay attention. I learned to trust my instincts through that experience. I take great comfort now, and hope you will too in knowing that we are soon to be opening a new hospital that knows kids inside and out and will know what to do for any childhood illness or injury.
I will be sharing with you some of the ways kids are different in the days leading up to and beyond the opening on 1-11-11.
But in the meantime, I want to hear from you.
What do you wish you knew about being a parent that you had to learn on your own, maybe the hard way? What's your best "baby shower wisdom?"
Let's collect all this great advice and share it with each other here.
Throughout my involvement with the construction of the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital I have come to realize how personal it is for everyone involved. That includes more than just the staff members who will take care of patients in the new building.
Check out this hard hat.
When I saw Glenn Masty's hard hat, I could not help but smile. Our child life manager Jodi Bauers had borrowed Glenn's hard hat and asked patients in the children's hospital sign their names on it.
Glenn is a pretty no-nonsense guy. As the Major Project Construction Manager for Spectrum Health, Glenn has coordinated the work of more than 2,700 construction workers on site for the past four years. Some days there are more than 500 workers buzzing throughout the building, employees of the various contractors on this job.
We have asked a lot from Glenn and his team, and he always answers that they will do whatever it takes to make this a special building "for the kids."
We know the kids are getting excited, too. Patients have been watching the construction progress from the windows of their hospital rooms and they can't wait to see what it looks like inside.
I have been hearing from Glenn for awhile about his hard hat, and I know he is touched by this personal connection to the children's hospital patients. What a great keepsake.
We call these kinds of things "children's hospital moments".
We are so excited that this great new children's hospital will be opening in about 100 days. I know your family will benefit from the personal commitment all of us have made to creating the best environment of healing for children.
While ArtPrize is drawing great crowds to downtown Grand Rapids, I feel like we have our own version of ArtPrize being installed at the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. I was struck by the comparison during a presentation I was making at a children's hospital committee meeting this week. One of the slides I shared stated that 9,000 children have been involved in creating more than 1.500 pieces of art that will be displayed. "That's about as many pieces as are part of ArtPrize," one of my colleagues commented.
Later in the day, during a tour of the children's hospital with a group of physicians we were as thrilled to see the art decorating the walls already as we were to see the new clinical spaces.
Of course everyone was enthralledby the giant mosaic mural in the main lobby, produced by 2009 ArtPrize runner-up Tracy vanDuinen involving hundreds of children. It covers 1400 square feet of the south wall of the lobby and is just breathtaking in its scale and execution of the theme: "what makes you happy."
But we were just as enthused seeing the sheer number of pieces of children's art already on display. Long hallways in the Radiology area feature colorful images of animals, including fish prints, and fanciful birds. A display called "things that move" represented a giant circus train. Smaller pieces included a series of robots made from Legos.
The artwork created by kids is being coordinated and installed under the direction of LaFontsee Galleries of Grand Rapids. But the idea of all the art being made by children is really the brainchild of our president, Dr. Bob Connors. His vision for art made by children is that it would help make children feel comfortable and safe. Kids would recognize that they are valued in an environment where children's art is front and center.
It is so awe inspiring to see this artistic vision come to life in the context of an exciting new vision for children's health care, the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital that will open on 1-11-11.
The other night at home, I was still pondering a logistical challenge we had wrestled with at work. One thing that had really stumped us was how to estimate the capacity of our elevators to move 10,000 people through the building during the Community Day opening event.
My ten-year-old, Lucas and I were both doing our "homework" after dinner.He was complaining, as most kids do, that his homework wasn't real, like my "homework" was.He said, "I'll never use this math I am learning." (Don't tell his teacher.)
So I put the challenge to him. "Here's a real world example of a math problem we are trying to solve at work," I said. I got out a paper and pencil and then Lucas got his scientific calendar and we worked through this word problem together: If we have 10,000 people attend opening events, and nine elevators...each person goes to an average of five floors, the average ride takes X# of minutes. It turned out to be about a seven step problem.At the end, it was clear to me that we needed to extend the hours of our community day to accommodate the number of people who could potentially attend.
When I returned home from work the next night and told Lucas that the hospital had in fact changed the times of the Community Day based on our calculations he was beaming from ear to ear.Teachable moment: Math does count!
Although the new children's hospital officially opens when we move in the patients on 1-11-11, opening events will be conducted during the beginning of December. Community Day will be a time for our entire community to come and tour the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.It will be great to finally share this project with so many families and children who have been excitedly waiting for the opening.
One of the cool things about working at a children's hospital is that adults sometimes get to act like kids.
I had a ball with my colleagues when we had a chance to preview some of the new toys and games that are being selected to stock the shelves of the Sallie Bender Guild Gift Shop in the lobby of the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.
The buyers who have been selecting the gift shop items have used great care and insight to find toys and other things to cheer up and entertain children in the hospital.
I saw so many items that I knew my kids would love that I wanted to start shopping right away.
Everybody immediately became a kid again, playing with the toys and I knew then that the gift shop will be a great destination for kids and families. I also noticed that the toy and game selection had something to offer for kids of all ages, and kids of differing abilities. There are toys that are cuddly, some that encourage creativity and others that will keep kids busy for hours. There were even low stimulation toys for kids with autism.
After the demonstration, I learned that all of the vendors donated the toys they displayed to be used by our child life program right away so I am sure they will be well received by our patients.
What really caught my eye was one of the great toys that kept us entertained when my daughter, Sofina, was hospitalized five years ago. Have you ever played with the toy called a Find It - Original? It was a hollow clear plastic tube filled with beads, and nearly 50 small items: a pearl, a popcorn kernel, a clip, and an elusive penny. We all played with the toy for hours, checking off the list the items that we found. But to this day, we still can't find the penny.
The Sallie Bender Guild Gift Shop will be located in the lobby of the new hospital.It is a beautiful, large space that will surely fire up imaginations. Watch for details about opening events in December. The gift shop will be open then, so be sure to check it out.
I had a wonderful experience the other night attending a fundraiser for Helen DeVos Children's Hospital that was held at Celebration Cinema. It was a premier of the movie What If, which is coming out in the next few weeks. The event had two-fold meaning for me. First of all, it was amazing to see the community support for the work we do at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, particularly from our lead partner for the event, Varnum, which helped sponsor this event for the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital Foundation.
Before the movie, we watched a video about a premature baby whose life was saved by our cardiology team, through heart catheterization, open heart surgery and lots of time in our children's hospital. People also spoke about what the children's hospital has meant to their families and loved ones.
I was there with my Mom and Dad and I leaned over and said, "I am so proud that I get to work there every day!"
There was another reason I was proud and that was because my Dad, who is a local actor, had a role in the movie. The movie was filmed exclusively in Grand Rapids and Manistee. It made me reflect on all of the things that we are building in West Michigan that are so positive. We have a growing medical center that can provide the highest level of care, great jobs for residents in our community and a feeling of overall excitement about the rapidly developing Michigan-based film industry. While watching the film I saw the new children's hospital featured in a view looking up of the Michigan Street hill. I reflected on what a generous community we have. To have a resource like this in a community this size is really something to be proud of. Did you know that there have been over 4,000 individuals who have donated something to make this new hospital a reality? Those are everything from multi-million dollar gifts to a $10 check we received from a grateful grandma which added up to more than $103 million raised to help build the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.
By the way, proceeds from the movie premier screening raised $20,000 for the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital Foundation.
With all of the activity of opening a new hospital in about 150 days, last night was a great chance for me to stop and feel grateful on just how lucky we are. Thanks to everyone who helps make this new hospital a reality for the kids of our community!
When I see these pictures of the work being done on the outdoor garden and play space I am reminded of something our president, Dr. Bob Connors, says often about the new children's hospital: "Kids need more than medicine to get well."
A child in the hospital does not stop being a child just because he or she is sick or injured. So creating a place where patients can enjoy fresh air and sunshine, beautiful plants and unique play things is just as important as the effort and resources we are putting into technology, equipment and medical care.
One of the strongest influences on my own parenting style came from a book titled, Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv. It talks about the importance of the outdoors for a child's well being.Have you ever noticed when you take your child outside they either run around because of the freedom of the outdoors or sometimes quietly explore something as simple and magnificent as a pattern on a leaf? I get this feeling as an adult too.Watching the clouds, feeling the breeze and breathing deeply can restore my balance after a hectic day of work, kids and life. I believe the garden we are building at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital will be a place to have these experiences.It is unnatural for a child to spend days in a room in a hospital and it is stressful for parents and siblings to be there to support their child. I hope that our families will enjoy the freedom and playfulness of the space and spend some time connecting with each other and nature.
Flowers, shrubs, bushes and trees will help celebrate nature in the midst of a city. The outdoor garden is equipped with electrical outlets so that children can plug in their portable infusion pumps while they enjoy the view and the toys.
The play equipment is interactive and I am looking forward to the sounds of laughter interspersed with the banging of bongo drums, and the chimes of the xylophone.
Access to the outdoor garden and play space will be through doors from the cafeteria on the west side of the building overlooking Bostwick Street. Already I am envisioning kids wheeling out to the patio to share lunch with their families.
There is so much happening with the new building right now. I wanted to provide you a quick photo update. Brief captions below each picture give you a glimpse of all the work happening inside as we prepare to care for our kids.
Artist Tracy Van Duinen and his team completed installation of the mosaic mural. Isn't it gorgeous?
A detail of the mural features beautiful flower images near the outdoor garden. The mirror mosaic pieces reflect amazing colors of light.
The mosaic mural is too big to show in one image, it measures 160 feet long by 19 feet high and covers more than 1,400 square feet.
A nursing station in the neonatal intensive care unit is nearly complete.
The surgical family lounge on level C provides a soothing atmosphere from the sounds and sights of a bubble wall.
Beautiful colors on the wall behind the reception desk will welcome families to the surgery area on level C.
Today while touring the 8th floor pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), one of my colleagues exclaimed, "Wow! This will be a show-stopping moment for the opening events tours."
He is a veteran of 20 years experience in children's hospitals so I took this as more validation that the PICU truly is an amazing space. It is an incredible blend of high technology and high touch care and amenities.
More than any area of the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, the PICU is personal for me.As I've mentioned before, our daughter was born with a serious heart defect eight years ago which landed her in the children's hospital pediatric intensive care unit at 8 days old. After years of care and open heart surgery she is a healthy, active child.That first night in the PICU was scary, but I will never forget one of the nurses who sat on the chair in the room and explained the situation to us until we understood. The caregivers in our critical care department have always provided wonderful, lifesaving care, and to think that they will now have an environment that matches their excellence is truly awe inspiring. There will be wonderful views of the sunrises and sunsets from the 16-foot high windows in each of the 24 patient rooms. Today, the construction and equipment leaders showed us how the rooms were designed so that the patient's bed can be arranged so the child can see out the window if they choose.For some children who have to stay in the PICU, this will be a wonderful treat. There will also be accommodations for parents to sleep in, a bathroom in each room and family space on the unit. The array of patient monitoring and therapeutic equipment is similar to what you would see in an operating room.
It will be a great environment of healing for the most critically ill and injured children, and for those kids who will be recovering from major surgery. The new PICU is eight beds larger than the current PICU, which will be important during trauma season, and also during the busier winter months when we treat many children with respiratory problems.
The new PICU is personal for the staff who will be working there too. Since January 11, 2010 when we started the one year countdown to opening day, the PICU staff has been delivering cakes and cookies to the construction crew on the 11th of each month. I had to smile when a PICU manager shared this story with me. She was picking up a cake inscribed with the message: "counting down the days to 1-11-11" and the baker said: "That's the day of the opening of the new children's hospital, you must be very proud."
I thought it would be fun to share some pictures of the amazing mosaic mural being installed in the main lobby of the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. It is revealing itself quickly. Yesterday, I saw the sketches on the wall and today I received these pictures of the mosaic pieces starting to be attached. The mural will cover most of the south wall in the lobby, going up and over the restaurant area. It is going to be HUGE, measuring 160 feet long and 19 feet high, covering 1,400 square feet of wall space.
Like all of the art in the new children's hospital, kids are involved in this project. The artists, Tracy VanDuinen and Todd Osbourne, worked with children in art-making sessions at LaFontsee Galleries to draw pictures of things that made them feel happy.
Then, the children painted mosaic tiles that will be installed onto the giant mural the artists drew from the workshops with the kids. You may recall that Tracy VanDuinen was the second place winner in last year's Art Prize competition for the mural he created with kids in front of the Grand Rapids Children's Museum.
This is an exciting milestone in the construction of the new children's hospital. Many of the floors look nearly complete as final paint and finishes are being applied. By the way, just 202 short days until opening on 1-11-11.
Last week we had a really fun "start of summer celebration" that was organized by our child life staff.At the event some of our patients and families had the chance to sample and vote on their favorite flavors of ice cream.
The House of Flavors brand ice cream and sorbet will be featured in the ice cream window located in the lobby of our new children's hospital.The testers today had the chance to sample four flavors: "Moosetracks" "Birthday Cake," "Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough" and "Superman."The flavor that received the most votes was "Birthday Cake" and "Moosetracks" was a close second.
Ultimately, the ice cream window will feature several standard flavor options as well as seasonal flavors.It also important to us that we offer plenty of low fat and even sugar free options.
What are your kids' favorite ice cream flavors?Tell us on Facebook to help us pick the rest of the fun flavors to be included.Some options are:
Here is a sneak peek at a really fun feature that will be located in the main lobby and the surgical family lounge of the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital: a wall of bubbles.
The soothing sound and the beautiful movement of the bubbles through the water immediately engages you. There is a mirror behind it that will be fun for children to be able to see themselves covered with bubbles.
Nearby in the main lobby will be an interactive screen that functions a little like the Wii game without any controllers. Imagine watching falling snow. You can make a "virtual snowball" by bending down to scoop up a handful of snow, and then throw it against the screen and watch it splatter.
Imagine a children's hospital that makes getting better fun! Counting down the days to 1-11-11.
Driving east or west on Michigan Street in Grand Rapids gives me something new to see every day while the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital is under construction. The pedestrian bridge looks different every morning. Because of the "Fix on I96" construction, work on the pedestrian bridge can only take place at night when there is less traffic and a lane of Michigan Street can be closed off.
The most visible work is the installation of the framework for the glass walls of the bridge. Underneath, pneumatic tubes have been installed through which laboratory samples and medications will flow back and forth between the children's hospital and the diagnostic laboratory in the 35 Michigan building. This medical office building will house pediatric specialty clinics, a big improvement in access that brings together clinical space that now extends the length of Michigan Street.
Parking for the new children's hospital and the medical office building is beneath the 35 Michigan Street facility and the pedestrian bridge will serve as an iconic gateway connecting to the children's hospital main lobby. Valet parking will also be available at the new pediatric emergency department and at the main entrance.
As parents we hope that our kids can stay away from the hospital. Even though I work at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, I learned firsthand how the expertise of a children's hospital can make all of the difference for even rather minor injuries and illnesses.
My oldest child was injured on the playground at school last year. Like many other third graders, he thought it would be cool to jump to the fourth wrung on the monkey bars. He fell on his shoulder. At the time it didn't seem like a huge injury so my husband decided to get an X-ray at an adult-based location that he thought would be faster than taking our son to the children's hospital.
Several days later when the injury did not get better, we finally got smart and brought him to Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. The difference was striking. Helen DeVos Children's Hospital has pediatric-trained radiologists who know that a growing body is different than an adult body. The types of X-rays they took were different and as it turned out, my son's arm was broken. Of course, we felt terrible for not bringing him here in the first place.
The next visit was to the pediatric orthopaedic office. That was incredible. They were able to talk to my son in a way that made him feel comfortable and we were able to get follow up X-rays right in their office. What I learned from that experience is that the children's hospital is here for all kids and adolescents in our region for all types of injuries and illnesses-not just when it's a life threatening situation.
As it turns out, there are thousands of children who are seen in our emergency department, come in for a diagnostic test or come to see a specialist about a concern. While we are proud of our ability to serve very ill children, we are also proud of what makes a children's hospital special for all kids.
We spend a lot of time talking about clinical outcomes, cutting edge technology and highly trained specialists at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.
But today I wanted to take a moment to reflect on our softer side. Helen DeVos Children's Hospital is all about kids and creating a great environment where kids feel comfortable while they are healing.
A little ice cream can go a long way to helping make kids feel better.
Rich DeVos himself suggested having an ice cream window in the lobby of the new children's hospital. As you can see from the picture, the colorful tiles behind the counter should help brighten the mood.
Yes, we are focusing on healthier options too, in addition to the pizza and kid friendly food we will be serving in the restaurant. But we definitely want the hospital to be a magical place for kids and their families.
There are other magical features in addition to the fun food options, like a performance stage in the lobby. We have a lot of volunteers, from puppet masters to musicians to Miss America who come to visit. This mini stage will allow us to bring some interesting entertainment into the hospital. While these fun distractions will not completely minimize the fear and anxiety of a trip to the hospital, we hope it will make a difference.
Here are photos of the color-changing ceiling that you will see when you get off the elevators.
Every few seconds, the colors change in this beautiful wave form. You will see nature themes throughout the building. The design is playful and fun for all ages.
We're all getting so excited to see this new home for Helen DeVos Children's Hospital become a reality! 266 days!
Have your kids ever needed surgery?As parents this is something we don't take lightly.Making surgery the safest, most effective and most caring experience possible is our approach in planning for the surgical programs in the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.
For the first time, we will have dedicated operating rooms just for children. Six operating rooms will feature the latest technology and equipment such as two "stealth stations" using a 3D navigation guidance system for brain surgery. Surgical procedures performed will include: general, neuroscience, orthopaedic, plastic, eyes, ears, nose, throat,urologic, gynecologic and cardiothoracic. A state of the art cardiac catheterization lab and private post anesthesia recovery rooms are included.
We have an amazing team of pediatric trained surgeons, anesthesiologists and other specialists who have trained at the best hospitals around the country. These doctors chose to practice here in Grand Rapids because they were excited to work in a pediatric operating environment that was designed especially for children and adolescents. The surgeons are supported by a team of nurses, technicians and child life specialists.
To get the operating rooms ready, the team is tracking the purchase and supply of more than 12,000 instruments, over 400 pieces of equipment and 2,300 types of supplies.You might wonder why there is so much variety.Helen DeVos Children's Hospital surgeons operate on children who range from a one pound baby born too soon to a 350 pound 17-year-old and every size in between.Many tools and instruments have to be ready to accommodate a "child" of any size.
More than 9,000 surgeries are performed annually and about two thirds of these patients go home by the end of the day.
The new surgery floor at is located on Level A in the podium section (the rectangular floors at the base) of the building.To make the experience of surgery as family friendly as possible, our team has created a "Preparing for Surgery Video", built a beautiful family lounge and an interactive play room.We've also been planning for the process to be very supportive for families.For example, many children will be prepared for surgery and then return to recover in the same rooms.We've also built consultation rooms so that the surgeons can tell the family how the surgery went in a private place rather than in front of other families. Parents will also be encouraged to come with their child to an induction room where they can be with their child for the beginning of the anesthesia process to reduce anxiety in children.
We are proud of the expertise, technology and thoughtful process planning that is going into having a completely dedicated pediatric operating suite just for children. Tell me what you want to learn more about, I am interested in hearing from you.
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When my daughter was in the children's hospital it was the stickers that made a big difference.She didn't want to take her medicine at all.That is until the child life specialist suggested an idea.Stickers. Once Sofinaknew that she could earn a sticker by taking her medicine, she quickly opened her mouth and took her medicine on schedule.
For most children, the hospital can be a very scary place. Helen DeVos Children's Hospital has 17 child life specialists, experts in child development who are dedicated to supporting children and families through their hospital stay.The goal of the child life program is to help make kids feel comfortable and reduce their anxiety.
Preparing a child for a procedure is one of the most important things that can be done to help children know what to expect and how to cope. Sometimes a child life specialist will use a doll or a model to demonstrate a procedure, or engage the child in "medical play" before a diagnostic test or operation. Did you know that Helen DeVos Children's Hospital has videos on our Web site to help prepare kids for surgery?
Children may believe an illness or a procedure is punishment for something they have done.Child life staff are trained to help children understand that is it not their fault and explain what is going on in language they can comprehend.
When children are undergoing a procedure or a radiology exam child life staff members help the patients and families cope by offering suggestions that will help relax the child. They might encourage singing or holding on to mom's hand to help make a needle poke less painful.For longer procedures, watching movies and blowing bubbles might help pass the time. Patients who are in the hospital for a while can play with toys, or video games provided by child life or visit the play room.
While hospitalization is not expected to be fun for a child, only a children's hospital has the resources of child life staff members dedicated to making the experience as positive as possible for the child and family.
*The child life program is made possible by the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital Foundation. Learn more about the Foundation and how you can help by visiting their Web site.
Is it possible to have a pain free hospital? It might seem counterintuitive, but that is exactly what our physicians and staff are trying to accomplish at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. Pain management, sedation and distraction techniques are all designed to maximize a child's comfort and minimize anxiety during procedures that might be painful. As part of the planning for opening the new hospital, our teams are working hard to maximize the physical and emotional comfort of our patients. This can be as simple as rubbing a little numbing lotion on the skin before an IV poke or even sedating children before a difficult procedure. Our teams take this aspect of their jobs very seriously.
The pediatric sedation team at the new children's hospital will combine the two sedation teams that are now located far away from each other in different parts of the hospital. In the new children's hospital the sedation department is ideally located right in the middle of the procedure rooms, between the emergency department and the pediatric radiology department.
The radiology team has also teamed up with the child life staff to create an environment where children can learn about their radiology test before they go through it, to reduce fear and in some cases reduce or eliminate the need for sedation. Imagine your young child being told to "lie still" for 45 minutes during a magnetic resonance imaging exam. Yet child life staff have helped many children cope through guided imagery, and even special video goggles with which kids can watch a movie during the exam.
I know for me as a parent, pain and anxiety management are right up there with "get my child better so we can go home." I am proud that our teams here are prioritizing pain management and emotional well being for all of our patients.
I had lots of "goose bumps moments" watching the 99 ton steel pedestrian bridge being installed across Michigan Street for the new Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. The chilly, drizzly and windy weather produced goose bumps for sure, but my other "goose bumps moments" were the heart warming kind.
We gathered with more than 150 staff and their kids to watch the "bridge party" Adults and kids alike were mesmerized watching the crane hoist the bridge effortlessly into the air, having it turn in mid air and be placed into its new home. No small feat of engineering dangling a 99 ton, 200 foot long, four story tall bridge over the steep pitch of Michigan Street.
I had the privilege of watching the big lift with the parents of the 28-year-old crane operator. They were about as proud and nervous as you would imagine. They described their son not being able to sleep in anticipation of his big day. This isn't something you get to practice and you really only get one chance to get it right. Well, he got it exactly right and when that bridge went up and settled in, my co-workers and their children burst into spontaneous applause. Goose bumps moment number one. I watched my daughter holding up her drawing of the new hospital against the window to see how it compared to the real thing. She said, "Next time you build a hospital, you should make it rainbow colored, kids like colors." Goose bumps moment number two. I think the colors inside the new hospital along with the beautiful shapes and designs will definitely fit the bill.
After the big lift, our family went to the LaFontsee Gallery to participate in an art making event for kids. (Check out the link to the gallery, the art-making events continue through April 30) The walls of the gallery are already lined with beautiful pieces that will soon hang on the walls of the new hospital. Our kids quickly got to work at the various stations (paint dripping, drawing flowers, or drawing something that makes you happy).
The one spot that my daughter spent the longest at was the station relating to "What do you think happens in a hospital?" She carefully drew a picture of herself in a hospital bed, with an IV attached. The best part was that she drew four chairs with people in them, showing how we and her grandparents were by her side when she was in the hospital. Goose bumps moment number three.
If you were able to see the bridge going up or have taken your children to participate in the art making event, tell us your thoughts and goose bump moments!