East Tennessee Children's Hospital is making patient families a priority with their new $75 million addition set to open next month.
"What we look at is building that trust from the very beginning with the child. If you make the family happy, you make the child happy, and vice versa," said Barbara Barr, the director of surgery at ETCH.
The 245,000 square foot, five story Scripps Network tower includes a new surgery center, outpatient clinics for chronic illnesses and a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. It does not feel like a hospital in many areas with colorful walls and play features for children and calming, quiet spaces for adults. It's part of Children's Hospital's strategy to make kids feel comfortable.
Both the surgical floor and the NICU have private patient rooms.
Currently, the NICU is an open bay concept and that means visitation is restricted to certain times of the day and to only two people. The 44 private NICU rooms in the new tower allows for open visitation for the parents most of the time. For the first time ever, siblings will be allowed to visit their baby brothers and sisters at certain times.
"There's one baby in particular that has been here for a couple of months and the sibling has not been able to come to the NICU and see her baby brother," said NICU nursing manager Tracie Savage, "and that family is just ecstatic that they are going to be together as a family unit."
Savage said the private rooms promotes bonding with the baby.
In addition to a kitchen, shower and laundry facilities, there's also a place for parents of NICU babies to get away. Children's Hospital says the rooftop garden off the NICU is one-of-a-kind. The adults-only space was built for parents to relax and recharge.
The NICU also has a window in every room because Savage said the light promotes brain activity.
On Sunday Oct. 30, from 2 to 5 p.m., Children's Hospital is inviting the public to tour the facility. The ribbon cutting will be followed by an open house.
The NICU opens in November. Construction continues on the surgery center. It is expected to open next March.