For 130 years, Children's Memorial Hospital has been treating young patients at its Lincoln Park location. Now, it is moving in to some impressive new digs in the Chicago Streeterville area and taking on a new name. The Ann and Robert Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago is almost ready for patients, but Thursday it was the media's turn to check out the state-of-the-art facility.
There are elevators that make fun noises, sculptures to explore, a sky garden, a huge aquarium, even a real Chicago fire truck to play with. It sounds a bit like a new Chicago children's museum. It's a feel this $855 million hospital seems to have captured.
"What you will see is an entire building that is dedicated to the child, so every detail has been focused on the child's experience," said Lurie Children's Hospital's Dr. Marleta Reynolds.
Ellen Gordon, a nursing student and former patient, was part of the planning process, which relied heavily on input from the kids' advisory board.
"We just wanted to make sure that we could help the new kids with distraction and as natural and little as scary as possible," said Reynolds.
But there is no mistaking that past the fun features is a technologically advanced children's hospital. The 23-story facility is on the campus of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Officials are hoping this location will help attract the best in pediatric medicine and strengthen research opportunities.
The cardiac care unit is considered one of the few of its kind in the nation. A walkway will allow critically ill babies born at Prentice Women's Hospital to be easily transferred over.
"The mother and father will have open access and be able to come across the bridge and be able to visit their child without having mom discharged from Prentice," said Lurie's Michelle Stephenson.
Another unusual feature is the emergency department, which is on the second floor. Because of space constraints, it needed to be above ground level. But there is an enclosed ambulance bay and special elevators just for patients that need to head straight the ER.
The treatment rooms are large enough so that during the most critical situations parents can be in the room even as a child is being resuscitated.
"At the head of the bed, whenever possible, will be the parent," said Lurie's Dr. Steven Krug. "There will be a spot for the parent that did not exist in the old rooms."
Officials say one of the major goals for the hospital is to promote family-centered care.