Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fancy New Digs

I had an unusual opportunity last night. The members of the Family Advisory Council for UCSF Children’s Hospital were asked to give additional feedback on the planned design of the new Children’s Hospital, which is ALMOST under construction in Mission Bay. We were invited to tour the "mock up" of several types of hospital rooms that will be in the new hospital when it is completed in three or four years. The rooms were fantastic!

Right now UCSF Children’s Hospital is within the larger UCSF Medical Center. Once this new building is finished, it will be a free standing children’s hospital with state of the art facilities to match the state of the art care. The amount of detail in planning and designing these spaces is mind-boggling. Every color choice and material has to be considered as do all the lighting, wall and window coverings and floors. (Speaking of floors, it is funny to see linoleum making a comeback. The choice for the flooring looked very contemporary and right out of 1942 at the same time. Everything comes back into vogue, I guess.)

Members of the council did have some valid suggestions but they were on minor details. Floors squeaked, get the emergency box out of the reach of children, lose this sleep chair, keep that one, etc. I took it upon myself to try out the parents recliners, sleep chairs or sleep spaces in every room. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. This one was not the winner.

A couple of us with kids in wheelchairs noted access issues for the showers. They are open without steps, but one has to be able to stand to use them. The architects/designers proudly said every shower would have a bench. We pointed out that many disabled kids cannot sit up and even those who are without disabilities but recovering from orthopedic surgeries etc will need a shower chair or something supportive in order to use the showers. There is also a question of where all the equipment will go for many of the kids. Even with those issues, however, the enormous improvement over the current hospital is noteworthy. Mostly we ooh’ed and ahh’d at the fantastic new spaces.

When this hospital is complete, pediatric patients will have their own room and a big bathroom to go with it. The interactive area will be a TV, computer, mp3 and any other state of the art electronics – most of which we probably don’t even know about yet. The planned ICU rooms are about twice the current size and have everything you can imagine. Even the wee babies in the NICU will have their own spaces (for the most part) which is a lot calmer than the “bays” they have now with several babies in them. These will be more family friendly so parents can visit and even room in without feeling like they are in the way of the medical team.

The most impressive of all, though is the labor and delivery rooms. They are huge! Octomom could deliver her babies in here with plenty of room to spare. These rooms get the most visitors and are designed to impress – and they hit the mark.

Maggie will be out of pediatrics before completion of this project. However, I know the next generation of parents will have the best possible facilities available for their sick children which is great and I can personally attest to the comfort of the sleep chairs - or at least some of them..

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