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.
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.