MORGANTOWN — The new WVU Medicine Children’s Hospital will take its first patients in just over two months. The Dominion Post was granted a preview tour to see how it’s taking shape as opening day approaches.
When we last visited in October 2021, there was a lot of exposed concrete and steel beams, along with partially finished rooms and halls showing plans and promise.
Now it just awaits details and equipment. Opening day is Sept. 29. WVUC spokeswoman Marisa Sayre, who guided the tour, said the schedule is still being finalized but the move from Ruby’s sixth floor to the new “free-leaning” hospital is set to run from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
It’s called free leaning rather that free standing, Sayre said, because it’s connected to the rest of the hospital complex via walkways on the fourth and 10th floors so patients and staff can pass back and forth as needed. But apart from the connectors, it’s its own hospital.
We started at the top and worked our way down.
The 10th floor is the Hostetler Family Resource Center — also called the I’m a Mountaineer floor. It’s light and open, with floor-length, wall-to-wall windows offering a panoramic view, including Mountaineer Field.
“We want to promote a facility of healing,” Sayre said. It’s a place for the family to get a respite, relax, play. There are computers, a dining area, a sibling room for brothers and sisters of the young patients to come and play, a washer and dryer, conference room space, and projector and big screen that comes down from the ceiling for families to have game-watch parties or movie nights.
The floor is football-themed; the dining area walls are covered with photo murals and one wall of the main recreation area is in the fashion of a locker room with blue padded seats and the names of coaches and players who’ve donated to Children’s, with a memento of the coach or player behind the transparent locker wall.
Framed on one wall is a poster spelling out Children’s mission, vision and “cultural truths.” Those truths are caring big, lifting each other up, building bridges, walking in each other’s shoes, building trust and doing what they love.
Floor 9 is the pediatric acute care floor. Each floor has its own color scheme and “critter” mascot to help families and visitors navigate the building. Floor 9’s critter is a fox — there will be a fox statue at the main elevator and each room number bears a fox illustration.
One of the hospital’s healing principles is control, Sayre said, and one way this is offered to the child patients is a means for the kids to operate their own light schemes in the rooms. There are twinkle lights on the ceilings and colored lights around the beds — in Mountaineer blue and gold or rainbow.
The family advisory council helped pick out all of the furniture — such as family couch-beds and reclining chairs — Sayre said. They’ve had experience in long stays and tested the couches and chairs for comfort.
The floor also has child life activity center for patients who are able to get out of their rooms for a time. It has an open play area with a low, child-level sink, and an attached playroom for toddlers with a colorful, rubbery floor.
There’s also an inpatient Neal and Brooke Brown Foundation rehab center on this floor.
Floor 8 is the birthing center. The large rooms are designed to be more spa-like than clinical, with a couch and work station for the family; and some have a separate area with birthing tubs.
The color scheme is neutral and relaxing. Instead of critters, the floor mascot is flowers.
Floor 7 is the NICU — neonatal intensive care unit. The mascot is a doe and her fawn. Unlike in the current NICU, each room is private.
“This is allowing us for the first time ever, parents will be able to stay with their NICU babies,” Sayre said. The rooms are wood paneled. Huge swinging arms dangle overhead; suspended from them are plug-in units for the various equipment needed to care for the babies in their NICU beds.
Each room has pass-through doors for laundry and for medicines. One nurse will monitor two rooms and each pair of rooms features a nurse station tucked into a little alcove, with windows into each room.
The Floor 6 mascot is the bear. It includes the pediatric intensive care unit, the epilepsy monitoring unit, the cardiac intensive care unit and the pediatric sleep lab.
Floor 5 is called Building Support and houses all the mechanical equipment — HVAC, electrical and so on.
Floor 4 houses pediatric imaging, the heart center, the blood disorder and cancer center, the inpatient pharmacy. The infusion bays are brightly lit with walls painted in Mountaineer gold. The waiting and check-in area is roomy with picture windows along the walls.
And on the wall by the check-in desk is a coal-black West Virginia cutout with “hope” painted across it in graceful cursive, and the bell. Patients get to ring the bell to signal they’ve finished their chemotherapy.
Floor 3 is maternal fetal medicine with a balcony offering a view of the main floor and welcome center below.
There is no Floor 1. It was designed this way, Sayre said, so the levels in Children’s would match the levels in the Heart Institute and Ruby.
So Floor 2, the bottom floor, is the main entry with a gift shop — it will have a toy store atmosphere for kids — cafeteria with a chef specializing in kids’ fare, chapel and pharmacy.
Also on this floor is the emergency room. ““This will be the first time ever we have a designated children’s emergency department,” Sayre said. It has two entrances — one for ambulances, one for walk-ins.
Look down at the tiled welcome center floor and you’ll see tiny gold letters — W, V and U — embedded beneath the surface. Hospital “ambassadors” dressed in referee uniforms, will help visitors find their way around.
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