Star-studded party celebrates new Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago

April 20, 2012 8:46:17 PM PDT
A gala for the new Children's Memorial Hospital Friday night attracted Bears coach Lovie Smith, former Bull Scottie Pippen and actress Sarah Jessica Parker.

The new hospital opens June 9.

"Not a lot of cities have hospitals like this," said Park told ABC7. "Everything has been so beautifully thought out."

The 23-story Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital is nearly double the size of the current Children's Memorial Hospital in Lincoln Park. The emergency room can serve twice the number of patients and the neonatal intensive care unit now offers private rooms.

"I think this hospital will set a new standard for healing environments around the world," said Bruce Komiske, Design Chief, Lurie Children's Hospital.

"My wife Susan and I, we've had a child with chronic medical challenges," said David Axelrod, White House senior advisor. "You come to count on places like this for miracles.

Medicine and technology are just part of the healing process at the new hospital. More than 20 cultural institutions contributed artwork and design elements, including a whale sculpture in the lobby that was donated by Shedd Aquarium.

A CT scan can be scary for any kid, but bright colors and fun characters can help soothe young nerves.

"Kids can come and not be so scared and feel warm and welcome, and more of an adventure than something scary," said actress Bonnie Hunt.

The $855 million hospital was made possible by a $100 million donation by philanthropist Ann Lurie, who was once a children's memorial nurse.

"It's absolutely coming full circle," she said. "I feel something inside me, it all makes sense."

Friday night's event raised more than $5 million, part of the half a billion dollars raised so far, though hospital officials say they are still $90 million short of their goal.