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Golisano Children’s Hospital Patients Move In, Building Opens

“For over 17 years, Golisano Children’s Hospital has been our home away from home, and for the past several years [the nurses and the rest of the medical faculty and staff] have been our family,” shared Sarah Favro, mother to Cole and Zoe, a brother and sister treated for cystic fibrosis. “They’ve supported us through our struggles and helped us celebrate our successes. There are many memories of our times in the old children’s hospital, and while some of them were painful and full of stress, it is the laughter and good times they remember.”

Move In DayAdrenaline was pumping and emotions were running high as close to 40 inpatients were transported from UR Medicine’s old Golisano Children’s Hospital to the new eight-story, 245,000 square foot building July 21, an historic and momentous day years in the making.

Nurses, doctors, and children’s hospital staff gathered on the old children’s hospital’s fourth floor units to send off patients and their families to their new private rooms in the beautiful new tower. Dressed in red Sandy Strong shirts, nurses pushed their patients in hospital beds and cribs, making their way to the bridge connecting to the new Golisano Children’s Hospital. Safety was the first priority with staff keeping close watch on patients’ vitals and ensuring patients were transported efficiently. Parents accompanied their children and hospital staff as they made their way to the seventh and eighth floor general care rooms of the new building. Patients on unit 4.1600 were moved first, followed by 4.3600 and then 4.1400.

“We prepared for any medical emergencies along the route and made sure that necessary equipment and monitoring were in place,” said Denise Clough, pediatric nurse manager. “We had a strict schedule to keep and needed to ensure a steady pace during the move process. The logistics and responsibility of transferring our patients was pretty intense, but we knew it was also important to have some fun along the way. After all, this is a pediatric hospital and we are all about the kids.” 

‘All about the kids’

Backpacks decorated with Sandy Strong, the hospital’s champion for children, were used to help patients pack and transport their personal belongings for the move. Patients also received “on the go” breakfast boxes for easy consumption and transportation. As patients moved along the connective bridge to the new building they took part in a scavenger hunt to find their new rooms. Wegmans Child Life Program staff created different stations with clues for the kids to determine if their room was on the Park- (seventh) or City-themed (eighth) floor of the new building. Each patient received four clues that eventually spelled out his or her destination. Items included leaves, butterfly pinwheels, matchbox cars, personalized street signs, and more.

The entrances of each of the seventh- and eighth-floor patient rooms of the new Golisano Children’s Hospital tower were adorned with colorful ribbons, welcoming patients and families as they arrived. Upon entering, patients cut the ribbon to their private room, signifying the bittersweet occasion of being its very first occupant.  

“No one ever hopes to have to stay at a hospital, so we wanted to be sure to make the moment of moving to a new room in a brand new building as celebratory as we could for the patients and their families,” said Clough. 

“The nurses and the transport team did a great job making the transition a lot of fun,” said Kerri Noyes, mother of Jacob, a frequent patient at the children’s hospital. “Jacob was nervous to move, but having the scavenger hunt and people cheering him on along the way helped ease his initial anxiety. I was truly floored by how coordinated and smooth everything went.”

‘Our new NICU home’

Just two weeks prior to the general care move, 35 of Golisano Children’s Hospital’s tiniest patients were transported across the connective third floor bridge from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and maternity ward on Strong Memorial Hospital’s third floor to the widely expanded private rooms of the Gosnell Family NICU’s Wegmans Nursery in the new building. Everyone involved in the NICU move was dressed in yellow shirts, symbolizing the color of the floor’s theme – the Meadow. Similar to the seventh- and eighth-floor moves, medical professionals, including respiratory therapy staff and nurses, teamed up to transport babies and their monitors.

“It was certainly an exciting day,” said Tim Stevens, M.D., NICU medical director and chief clinical officer of Golisano Children’s Hospital. “It was a team effort, with close to 50 people working together to care for all of our NICU babies while making sure the move ran smoothly. We couldn’t be happier to now have patients and families benefiting from the new space.”

As a welcome to their new rooms, NICU families were given hand-made quilts and a children’s book to make the room more special. Built-in shadow boxes on the walls of each unit will also allow residents to include a more personal touch, as in a nursery.

“We are so proud of our new NICU home,” said Karen Paul, NICU nurse leader. “We foster our families’ involvement into every aspect of their child’s development and by offering them this new environment, we are giving them such exciting opportunities to progress. It’s a wonderful thing to see them enjoying their new space.”

Getting from point A to B

Several years of thorough planning led up to the days of the patient moves. With a goal of moving in the most orderly manner possible while, first and foremost, maintaining patients’ safety, the move management project team – made up of roughly 40 people – practiced with multiple simulation runs.

“We conducted trial runs from the old NICU to the new building, from the Pediatric Emergency Department to the new building, and from the old fourth floor general care rooms to those in the new building,” said Fina Santiago, relocation manager at Vargas Associates. “Practicing helped us to fully understand the time it took to get from point A to B, which further helped us to develop our patient move sequence so we could fully understand how many patients we could relocate within a certain time.”

Throughout the trial runs, the team never lost communication with the hospital’s command center. Established on the first floor of the new building, the command center was the communication hub during patient moves. A representative from every hospital department was present, along with outside vendors, to make sure that patient safety was always maintained.   

Move In DayCommand center collaboration allowed for a truly seamless transition from the old hospital to the new space. All members of the move management team were prepared for anything that could’ve possibly happened, always ensuring that patients’ needs were never undermined.

A move matrix was also instrumental in making the transfer run smoothly. Made up of a collection of data points tracking the movement of everything from a computer to a prescription printer to a patient, the matrix acted as the ultimate guide for getting each item and person from one point to the next.

A dream come true

With faculty and staff and patients and families settled from the moves, the new Golisano Children’s Hospital officially opened its doors the morning of July 23. The largest capital project in the University of Rochester’s history, the $145 million building, and the healing environment it creates, is a dream come true for sick and injured children and their families in the Finger Lakes region and beyond.

“It is so exciting to be able to bring the best healing environment, the best professional talent, and the best future health care workforce to Rochester,” said Nina F. Schor, M.D., Ph.D., William H. Eilinger Chair of Pediatrics and Pediatrician-in-Chief of Golisano Children’s Hospital. “This building is much more than bricks and mortar; it is the launching point for a new era of developmental science and medicine in Upstate New York.”