Ever Better Pediatric Care at Golisano Children’s Hospital
Having a child become seriously ill or injured is the stuff of parent nightmares. If or when that happens, parents hope for miracles to cure their ailing child. Western New York now has its miracle haven as the Golisano Children’s Hospital (GCH) welcomed its first families after decades of wishes, fundraising, and tireless work. Families between the Pennsylvania and Canadian borders, from Buffalo to Syracuse and beyond, now have even more reasons to come to the new GCH for the best pediatric medical care.
Looking around GCH, you see the happy side of childhood: honoring—and encouraging—giggly kids who run, peek, crawl, climb, roll, touch, and watch everything around them with bright, curious eyes and sticky fingers. The overall design of the new hospital has children at its heart. This isn’t an adult facility that was modified for kids. What you won’t see is an institution intent on being “traditional.” How visitors, parents, and patients describe GCH is in curious contrast with its outstanding medical credentials: inviting, welcoming, a place of hope, family-centered, a place to call your own.
The strongest impressions walking through the hospital are of respect, nurturing, and love. GCH is totally dedicated to children, which helps take the sting out of the hospital experience for everyone. Safety, comfort, and privacy are evident in countless details throughout the building, which also celebrate kids and seek to preserve the essence of childhood.
Whimsical touches at every turn make adults as well as children smile and relax. Butterflies and birds are woven in the carpet and outlined in the stone floors. Touchable, imaginative artwork hangs at a child’s eye level—oversized photographs of kids playing on swings, splashing in water, or blowing dandelion fluff. Lounges and waiting areas are furnished with colorful modular couches, tables, and chairs unlike any you’ve seen in a hospital or doctor’s office.
While the best medical care is present everywhere, the overall vibe at GCH is peaceful, happy, and friendly. The cheerful colors, a two-story play deck for patients and visiting siblings, a teen lounge, a school room, the Wi-Fi-connected family lounge and child-spoken elevator messages help young patients and their parents relax during an anxious time.
Historically, GCH treated 74,000 patients annually and handled 21,300 pediatric surgeries along with 27,000 pediatric emergency room visits each year. It is the regional referral center for advanced pediatric surgery and the only Western New York center offering pediatric cardiac surgery. In addition, it is the largest intensive care service for children and young adults in Western and Central New York and the only Level IV neonatal intensive care unit in the Rochester region.
A study funded by UniHealth Foundation and Ronald McDonald House Charities® in 2013 reported that parents who stayed with their child during the child’s hospitalization felt that their presence helped their child recover and spend less time in the hospital. Another important by-product is having parents involved as part of the care team. “Given that many of us are parents ourselves,” Nina F. Schor, M.D., Ph.D., pediatrician-in-chief, observes, “it’s mindboggling how long it has taken the medical community to realize that parents have knowledge that can help caregivers.”
One of Rochester’s two Ronald McDonald Houses® is part of the new eight-story hospital, allowing family members to slip away for a shower, do laundry, cook a meal together, and find a home-like atmosphere and a sense of normalcy away from the clinical floors for a short while.
At times, providers and staff are affected emotionally as they care for seriously ill children and young adults. GCH features a comfortable, peaceful lounge for staff members and providers so they can get out of the public view briefly to communicate, recharge privately, and lessen the noise on the unit.
Anchoring the exceptional quality of care at GCH is electronic technology and deliberate construction designs that let caregivers focus on the patient, not on the charts, stats and screens delivering an endless river of data. Nurses carry specially programmed handheld communication devices—like smartphones, but for hospital work only—so they can monitor several patients’ vital signs concurrently, alerting them immediately to any crisis, and connect with other staff.
Patient beds are positioned near the door, so the caregiver is at the child’s bedside in a couple quick steps. The corridor windows give nurses clear views into each patient’s room from the hub station while maintaining privacy between rooms. The window-side of the spacious, private rooms is the family’s space, so providers and family don’t have to compete to be nearby.
All patient rooms, even in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), are private and have sleeping areas for parents. Each baby’s room can be personalized with family pictures, stuffed animals or favorite toys, creating a more home-like environment, especially when the infant may remain in the hospital for weeks or months. For twins and triplets, adjoining rooms let the whole family stay together.
For everyone’s safety, patients wear a security bracelet during their stay, which activates an alarm should they accidentally stray from their area. Patients are also signed in and out when they leave the floor for tests or imaging. Visitors, staff, and workers must wear badges when they are on the patient floors, giving parents peace of mind and maintaining a high degree of security.
GCH takes you on a journey to the Lake, Meadow, Glen, Garden, Park, and City as you ascend floors. Each is decorated and color-keyed to their theme. For example, Pediatric Imaging occupies the ground floor, Lake. Silhouettes in the treatment rooms show children fishing; others show a lighthouse or sailing ships, and the accent walls are ocean blue. The integrated PET/MRI imaging system, the first of its kind in a U.S. children’s hospital, operates within a pirate ship façade, reducing anxiety for the child about to undergo a scan. Additionally, the dual-image PET/MRI reduces radiation exposure and procedures for wiggly young patients.
Specialty and general pediatric medical care are a critical need for our region. Golisano Children’s Hospital proves that exceptional medicine can occur in non-institutional, cheerful surroundings that patients and families are calling nothing short of miraculous.
Keep up with all things GCH via the Miracle Milestones blog, GCH Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account.