After nearly two years of construction, WBIR 10 News took an exclusive look inside the new $75 million addition to East Tennessee Children's Hospital.
The five-story expansion will include 44 private neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) rooms, surgical floor, clinical services and two-level parking accommodations with 70 new spaces.
“Our smallest OR now is larger than our largest room that we have in the current building," Vice President of Operations Steven Godbold said. "They’re going to have the latest equipment in them too for pediatric cases that we have.”
Godbold said adding these existing services in a single new space aims to make hospital stays more convenient and comfortable for families.
“We’re fragmented and on different floors for a lot of services," he said. "It causes lots of operational issues with our staff and with the parents and families too, moving about. We’d just like to get everything centrally located where we can.”
He said the addition solves those problems.
“They’ll never leave this floor when they come here for surgery as an outpatient," Godbold said. "Now our inpatients will come across the bridge from the inpatient tower that they have connected to us, have their surgery and then go back to their room.”
Children's Hospital also put a main focus on patients and families staying the NICU, providing more privacy for them than ever before.
"In an open ward, you can only come visit your baby, not stay with them," Godbold said. “We feel that the parents and families need to be with the child to start that bonding process and healing process. That’s a major part the family needs to play in that, and that’s what this facility will be able to do. You’ll be able to stay with your baby.”
The NICU floor is also finding ways to brighten hospital visits through unique lighting.
“We’re using the skylights into what we call a light court that will let in the light indirectly," Director of Engineering Bill Thurman said. "Then, where we’re looking at this opening that will be glass so that this patient room will get the indirect sunlight because it is a requirement that all patient rooms have natural daylight.”
The natural light is paired with a live rooftop garden, another feature new to Children's.
“We don’t have a green space," Thurman said. "You go outside, and you go into to a street. Here, maybe you can just sit in a little green space, not too far from your family, you know, from your patient or your child.”
Construction is on track to be finished this September. The NICU and clinic will start accepting patients by November.
Each floor should be fully functioning by April 2017.