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New home for healing promotes peace

Strong Kids Newsletter

construction shotPaint is up on the walls, lights are installed and doors are in. We’re in the final stretch of construction on UR Medicine’s new Golisano Children’s Hospital, and we couldn’t be more excited about moving in our patients and their families!

The journey to opening the front doors started long before the shovels hit the dirt in 2012 and before our generous benefactor, B. Thomas Golisano, committed $20 million to the new hospital in 2011. The philosophy behind the building – building it around the needs of children and their families – has been in place for a long time. But how to execute that has taken the past four years to make a reality.

“We wanted to do everything we could to reduce stress, anxiety and fear,” said Nina F. Schor, M.D., Ph.D., the William H. Eilinger Chair of Pediatrics and pediatrician-in-chief of Golisano Children’s Hospital.

That means bigger and private rooms, so families don’t have to share space with each other and so that they can stay with their children as much as possible throughout their stay. It means more spaces for gathering and for respite outside the patient rooms, such as in the new playrooms, Playdeck, lobby, Caregiver Respite Lounges, The Ronald McDonald Family Room, and Library. And, on the fine detail level, it means creating a calming environment, both by moving the hustle and bustle off-stage and by using the interior design to promote peace.

room constructionThe building planning committee, which included families, physicians, nurses, architects and designers, chose the interior design theme of nature because of its tranquility. And what better nature to emulate than the beautiful landscapes of upstate New York? Each floor has a specific theme, such as Lakes, Meadows and Parks, helping families to better remember what floor they’re on while also using the décor to help reduce stress.

One of the biggest challenges was incorporating nature’s colors into the wall colors. For example, the Gosnell Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is the Meadow theme, which means designers could have used wildflower colors, such as pink, yellow and blue. But those colors reflecting back on the babies can change how healthy they look. Blue makes them look like they have low oxygen and pink has the opposite effect. Yellow can make them appear jaundiced.

“Try to design a nursery when you can’t use pink, yellow or blue,” said Elizabeth Lattimore, chief administrative officer for Golisano Children’s Hospital. Instead, an earthy brown with silhouettes of the tree trunks that line meadows are on the accent wall of each patient room. Blue, purple and pink birds dot the walls. And huge windows and glass doors bring natural light into every room.

“The feeling we were trying to get to was ‘magical.’ Not ‘Disney’ magical, but something that when you look at it, it makes you feel good,” Lattimore said.

Although most children’s hospitals focus those magical moments in lobbies and waiting rooms because patient-care spaces get so much wear and tear, the new Golisano Children’s Hospital brings the magic into every corner. Even behind nurses’ stations, cows munch on grass and crocuses pop through the ground. In the elevator, a child’s voice will welcome riders to their floor.

It wasn’t an easy process. In fact, after carefully choosing all the surface materials over the course of months, 60 percent of them failed testing. The cleaners we use, the UV lights, the patient beds banging into things, are hard on materials. It degrades counters, paint and cupboard doors over time.

But it was all worth it to give our region’s children and their families the best possible home for healing.

“It makes a big difference. What they’re really going to remember is what they saw and how we made them feel,” Lattimore said. “We don’t want it to feel like a hospital. We want to feel like your home, comforting and relaxing.”

If you would like to support the new Golisano Children’s Hospital, please contact the Advancement office at (585) 273-5948 or visit www.givetokids.urmc.edu

-Heather Hare