For months faculty and staff at Johns Hopkins have been keyed up for the opening of the new Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center in May. As one resident said, citing an engaging design and mountains of space, “Honestly, it’s absolutely amazing. There’s a sense of awe about this building, a buzz about this place.”
But what’s the buzz for community pediatricians and the patients and families they refer to the Children’s Center? What will the new building mean for them?
First off, getting there will be much easier. The current Children’s Center is a hospital within a hospital—or in this case a large academic medical center with several entry points. Now the Children’s Center will have its own distinct 12-story building and entrance at 1800 Orleans Street in East Baltimore. Twice the size of the current Children’s Center, the hospital will be easily accessible and visually identifiable by its curved, colorful façade. An expansive landscaped vehicular entry plaza will allow families and patients to be dropped off in front of the building, or enter via a pedestrian bridge connecting the garage across the street to the hospital. From there, color-coded wayfinding guides them.
“While large, this building was designed to be approachable and easily navigable by patients and families,” says Pediatrics Administrator Ted Chambers. “It also brings some pleasant and curious surprises to help calm families facing a medical crisis.”
For instance, walking into the four-story atrium they’ll find artwork—like an ostrich suspended from the ceiling, a family of playful puffer fish, and a cow jumping over a necklace of moons—and soothing limestone and marble interior spaces designed to have a healing effect. Amenities include family lounges on every floor, an on-demand dining service, and an interactive in-room television system that offers, in addition to extensive TV programming, access to the Internet, gaming and patient education videos on subjects ranging from managing a chronic condition to coping with your hospital stay. Also, all 205 rooms are private with sleeping accommodations for parents, and spacious enough for medical equipment and changing levels of care.
“Teenagers really crave privacy,” says adolescent unit nurse manager Nancy Stanley. “We want to be able to offer the space and amenities families need to visit and room-in comfortably, day or night.”
The new building is designed to be quieter and safer, too. Decentralized nurse stations will keep nurses closer to patients as well as diffuse the din that occurs when nurses converge at a single work station. Also, a new sound-engineered nurse call system will eliminate overhead nurse pages, and high-end acoustical ceiling tiles and rubber floors will reduce escalating noise levels, which studies show interfere with healing, lead to medical errors, and desensitize staff to the urgency of alarms.
An advanced air circulation system will keep airborne germs in check and prevent or reduce respiratory complications. A radio-frequency identification system will improve efficiency and speed of care by instantly locating staff and equipment, and bar-coding technology will verify lab samples and medications, reducing the risk of errors. To ensure efficient and safe continuity of care, the new Children’s Center will also feature adjacencies for the pediatric oncology inpatient and outpatient units, and for Labor & Delivery and the 45-bed neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Other features include an expanded, easy-to-access pediatric emergency department and dedicated pediatric trauma bays, a 40-bed pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), and 10 state-of-the-art surgical suites. A dedicated pediatric radiology suite adjoins the pediatric operating rooms, minimizing floor travel for patients and optimizing access to imaging for surgeons in the OR and intensivists in the PICU. Pediatric transport and physician referrals services are also being revitalized in concert with the opening of the new hospital.
The development of many of these features, notes Chambers, can be attributed to input from community pediatricians, especially those who sit on the Children’s Center’s Physician Advisory Group (PAG).
“In this long planning, design and building process, we solicited ideas from families but also from private practice pediatricians and our PAG members who refer patients to us,” Chambers said. “Brick and mortar can make a big difference, but most vital to our future success is our continuing partnership with pediatricians in the community.”