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Golisano Children’s Hospital provides construction update

By Staff | Jan 22, 2015

In answer to the critically growing need for pediatric healthcare in the community, the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, housed within the HealthPark Medical Center at 9981 S. HealthPark Drive in Fort Myers, is expanding its facility with a 7-story, 300,000-square-foot pediatric tower that will consolidate all pediatric services within the tower.

The total cost of the project, which includes: a 76,000-square-foot renovation of the existing hospital for “enabling” projects; a 13,000-square-foot expansion of the central energy plant for the HealthPark; expanded parking; reconfiguration of site-access roads and underground utilities; and elevated ramp access to the pediatric ER entrance is “north of $242,000 million,” said VP of Facilities, Dave Kistel. The project is a joint venture by general contractors Skanska USA, based in New Jersey and Gates, based in Bonita Springs. Construction began in October, 2014, and is expected to be completed in 2017.

Kathy Bridge-Liles, the chief administrative officer for the GCHSWF, stated at a recent media event, that “The need for adult and pediatric care has been growing so fast that we are literally running out of beds.”

Research shows that the new tower’s 128 pediatric acute care, hematology/oncology, neonatal intensive care and pediatric intensive care beds, with a built-in capacity for 32 more, will meet the health care needs of sick and injured children from infancy through age 18 in our community for the next 15 years.

“A hospital within a hospital,” the Golisano Children’s Hospital, which opened in 1994, currently provides only 98 pediatric beds in multiple locations throughout the HealthPark hospital, which is the primary cardiology center for the Lee Memorial Health System. The planned consolidation and expansion of pediatric services will benefit not only the pediatric patients, but also the adult patients in three essential ways: 45 private-room, pediatric beds will become available for adult patients; the project enables the expansion of cardiology intervention, or catharization labs for adults coming in with chest pain; and the planned separate emergency department for pediatrics will “decompress the existing emergency department,” said CAO Kathy Bridge-Liles.

The GCH currently receives 30,000 pediatric visits a year, the Cape Coral Hospital ER receives another 15,000 and Fort Myers another 10,000. Meeting the needs of both adults and children in the same ER environment is challenging, explained Bridge-Liles. The existing hospital currently serves as many as 100 adults and 100 children a day in one ER. Separate ERs for children and adults will enable the staff to more efficiently and quickly meet the needs of each.

“Kids have special needs. Adults know that when they come in, we are going to get an intravenous started, but for a 5-year-old child, that’s traumatic. A separate pediatric ER will have specially trained staff to help a child understand the process at his or her developmental level,” she said.

One of the biggest reasons for a separate pediatric emergency department is that all of its physicians will be board-certified pediatrics.

The children’s tower will also have 17 separate ER bays.

“Each bay will have people ready and waiting to catch that baby,” said Bridge-Liles, MS and NEA-BC (Nurse Executive Advanced-Board Certified), “and to save its life when seconds count.”

Bridge-Liles said that having been a nurse is a huge advantage to her in her present administrative position, enabling her to understand the hospital’s staffing and support-services needs. One of the studies project planners conducted was to watch the movements of nurses in hospitals.

“We’d see them going back to the supply room 30 or 40 times a day to get the supplies they needed to care for their patients. So we will have a specialized equipment cabinet in each patient room that will have everything in it that the nurse needs that entire day. We want to work smarter, not harder.”

Nurses helped with this aspect of the patient-room design. The more stream-lined process allows the nursing staff to give better care to their patients and greater efficiency means better cost control for hospital and patients alike.

Project designers also enlisted the advice of family members of pediatric patients to help them create a family-focused environment for patients and their families. Every room is private and set up so that the family can stay around the clock with the child. A Ronald MacDonald House donation will create a fully staffed concierge room to meet the needs of families, providing meals, a laundry, and a business center so that families never have to leave the hospital.

Dave Kistel, VP of Facilities, described the 76,000-square-foot renovation of the existing hospital that will provide access points from the children’s hospital to ancillary services, such as radiology and surgery, in the existing hospital.

“Adults will be coming from one side and pediatrics from other side and sharing ancillary services-a true benefit from the standpoint of both staffing and patient care.”

In the future, as now, the Golisano Children’s Hospital also offers outpatient services, a sedation unit, two dedicated transport ambulances and a pediatric and neonatal transport team, social and spiritual services, a school teacher for children requiring extended hospital stays, and two music therapists, as well as music instruments for children who can play them.

In the new tower, all patient rooms facing south, including the windows of the obstetric unit in the existing hospital, will have a view of the large garden and play area that will connect with the existing hospital atrium. New fathers visiting obstetrics, as well as the families of the children in pediatrics, will be able to bring their children out to play within view of the patients.

From the top floors of the tower, patients will also have a view of the Gulf of Mexico.

“We are rapidly getting to the finish line,” said Sharon MacDonald, chief foundation officer. “We’re about to launch our heroes campaign to help us get there. It will be a multimedia campaign that will include TV, radio, transit and billboards, and will leverage social media so everybody from kids to adults can get it out on their Facebook pages. We’re on the homestretch. We just need to rally the rest of the community to bring us to the finish line.”

For more information about the GOAL campaign, the tower project and the Golisano Children’s Hospital, visit www.childrenshospitalgoal.org.