Up on the rooftop, construction workers pause …


“Go Santa, you are almost there!” say the children in our west-facing patient rooms.

He’s climbing to the 15-foot Christmas tree on the roof of our new Kay Jewelers Pavilion.

Last year, workers fashioned a Christmas tree powered by a car battery that was hoisted by one of our massive cranes each night. The cranes may be gone this year, but the holiday spirit remains.

“In my opinion, anything we can do to put a smile on the patients’ faces is worth the effort,” said lead project supervisor Tom Conti, of Welty Construction Co. “It isn’t every day that you get to work at a facility like this and have the opportunity to brighten these kids’ day.”

Conti and his 3 sons – 10-year-old Joe, 14-year-old Anthony and 16-year-old Tommy – trekked down to a tree farm in Zoar, selected the perfect tree and cut it down.

“I put the tree up on the building top the next day, but something seemed missing,” said Conti.


A week ago, his family watched in disbelief as he headed out to their front yard and dismantled the rope climbing Santa figurine that has brightened the chimney at his personal residence the past 10 years.

“The kids were like, ‘Dad! What are you doing?'” laughed Conti. “I think they thought I had lost it. But when I told them I wanted to take Santa to the hospital to make the day brighter for the kids, they were all for it.”

A wide-angle view from the construction camera shows the location of Santa and the tree on the Kay Jewelers Pavilion

A wide-angle view from the construction camera shows the location of Santa and the tree on the Kay Jewelers Pavilion

Names of patients highlighted in Graffiti project

graffiti-projectAkron Children’s Graffiti Project honors current and former patients on the new medical building currently under construction on the Akron campus.

The names of 205 patients have been spray-painted on floors 3 through 7 of the concrete facades facing E. Exchange Street and Perkins Square Park.

Below is the list of patients on the building. Learn more about this project.

Final list updated May 12, 2020.

  • Abby Hexamer
  • Abigail Foltz
  • Abigail Wise
  • Adam Ward
  • Addie Wisniewski
  • Adrienne Trecaso
  • Alanna Shaulis
  • Alex, David, Julia, Maggie Christopher
  • Alexander Young
  • Alexandra Newman
  • Alisha Crane
  • Alix Ott
  • Amelia & Sam Snellenberger
  • Andrew & Gabriel Wherley
  • Andrew Matheny
  • Angela Swords
  • Anna Baddorf
  • Anne Collins
  • Anthony & Danielle Hale
  • Anthony Colla, Jr.
  • Anthony Shingleton
  • Anthony Solari
  • Anthony Wunderle
  • Arelle Edwards
  • Aric Murray
  • Aubree Jukanovic
  • Audrey Richmond
  • Austin Bishop
  • Austin Michael
  • Austin Michael Davis
  • Ava Zahler
  • Benjamin & Courntey Wehman
  • Benjy Goutras
  • Blake Arnold
  • Bob Rice
  • Brad & Danielle Stewart
  • Bradford Harris
  • Bradley Stepp
  • Brady Eikleberry
  • Brandon Clark
  • Brandon Young
  • Brennan Carlin
  • Brian Montgomery
  • Brian Shay
  • Caleb Thurman
  • Cameron & Charis Nordhauss
  • Carina Britz
  • Carl Seaburn
  • Carren Cummins
  • Charlee & Lennix Pryor
  • Chelsey Kimble
  • Chole Cox
  • Christian LaFountain
  • CJ Evans
  • Claire Elise
  • Claire Elise Miller
  • Colin James Carr
  • Cooper Lewis
  • Daniel Yeric
  • Devon Burks
  • Donovan Glaze
  • Duane & Nelson Troyer
  • Elijah Bell
  • Elizabeth Baddorf, Rebecca Baddorf, Samuel Baddorf
  • Elyse Freeman
  • Emma Young
  • Emma, Katie, Charlie & Abby Haake
  • Eric Killinger
  • Ethan Moore
  • Ezekiel Miller
  • Franklin Brubaker
  • Gina Ramirez
  • Gino Altieri
  • Graham McGinnes
  • Hailey Casler
  • Haley Bergman
  • Haley Trainer
  • Hazel McKenna
  • Hoge Henley
  • Holden, Wyatt & Mallroy Schmid
  • Hudson Ballentine
  • Hunter Ewert
  • Isabella Bevilacqua & Sophia Bevilacqua
  • Isabella Restaino
  • Jack Delaney
  • Jack Donatelli
  • Jack Doyle
  • Jacob Hanood
  • Jacob Kropp
  • Jason Darke
  • Jayden Wallace
  • Jayoni Seth
  • Jeffrey Gingo
  • Jenna Ott
  • Jennifer & Natalie Orr
  • Jennifer Coventry
  • Jennifer Henley
  • Jennifer Hoge
  • Jillian Martell
  • Jim Carlson
  • John Hillock
  • John Knowles
  • John Knowles
  • Joseph Towell
  • Joshua Kurth
  • Julia Rhoad
  • Karlee McFall
  • Kassie Sliney
  • Katherine Perez
  • Katie & Cory Michalec
  • Katie Hausch
  • Keegan Nichols
  • Kellan Schlegel
  • Kelsey Minnick
  • Kevin Wells
  • Khalid Jadallah
  • Kim Alvarado
  • Kimberly Lainez
  • Kimberly Roth
  • Kimberly, Kathleen & Karen Jones
  • Kristin Beck-Clark
  • Larry Fongheiser
  • Lars Livengood
  • Lauren Braman
  • Lauren Ellen
  • Lauren Ellen Gartner
  • Layton Wyatt
  • Leah Merriman
  • Lee Samblanet
  • Lincoln & Hudson Garrett
  • Lincoln Garret
  • Linda Venner
  • Logan Boyd
  • Logan Keith
  • Logan Malson
  • Lucas Paskiet
  • Mackenzie Roach
  • Madeline Pryor
  • Madeline Renner
  • Madeline Silver
  • Madelyn Henley
  • Manny Rodriguez
  • Marissa Norwood
  • Maritza Harper
  • Matthew Nicholas
  • Matthew Nicholas Yanko
  • Matthew Smith
  • Matthew Wright
  • Max Rose
  • McKenzie Garretson
  • Megan Kasmar
  • Megan Merril
  • Melissa Taylor
  • Mia & Ryan Clark
  • Mia Wilson
  • Michael Ickes
  • Michael Tople
  • Mike Freer
  • Mikenna Stephenson
  • Morgan Bishop
  • Morgan Schroeder
  • Mychal Clayton
  • Nate Johnston
  • Nate Spring
  • Nick Reed
  • Nicki Casale
  • Nicole Bodjanac
  • Nicole Keller
  • Noah Hartline
  • Noah Shoup
  • Oliver Lancianese
  • Olivia Trecaso
  • Olivia Ward
  • Orry Wirt
  • Paige Biltz
  • Paige Schassar
  • Parker Berry
  • Parker Hendricks
  • Patience Curry
  • Patrick & Paul Wright
  • Patrick Berry
  • Patrick Delaney
  • Patrick Forrer
  • Peter & Matthew Slattery
  • Peter Murdough
  • Petito Triplets
  • Peyton Boyer
  • Raelyn & Jaxon Blazosky
  • Randall Cole
  • Rebecca Maynard
  • Ridge Miller
  • Rowyn Terihay
  • Sabrina DiDado
  • Samuel Dean
  • Sara Vollman
  • Scott Eddington
  • Sean Beck
  • Seth Myers
  • Shannon Golech
  • Shannon Maher
  • Sofia Dente
  • Sophia Allen
  • Sophia Strohm
  • Stephen & Summer McCreery
  • Taylor Bird
  • Taylor Degenhard
  • Tenley Riffle
  • Theresa Parson
  • Tim Ritter
  • Tom Venarge
  • Toree Poder
  • Trevor Weigand
  • Trinity Walker
  • Trisha Harmon
  • Tyler Beatty
  • Veronica & Vivian Brown
  • Will Jenkins
  • William Victory & Georgia Victory
  • Wilson Jenkins
  • Zachary Loader
  • Zeke Miller

1,000 cranes over Akron construct story of hope, community

Over the past year, Akron Children's construction team folded 1,000 origami cranes to signify hope and community. The cranes will be displayed at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima. Pictured L-R: Marge Zezulewicz of Hasenstab Architects; Sherry Valentine, an Akron Children's deployment leader; Grace Wakulchik, COO; and Scott Radcliff of Hasenstab Architects.

Over the past year, Akron Children’s construction team folded 1,000 origami cranes to signify hope and community. The cranes will be displayed at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima. Pictured L-R: Marge Zezulewicz of Hasenstab Architects; Sherry Valentine, an Akron Children’s deployment leader; Grace Wakulchik, COO; and Scott Radcliff of Hasenstab Architects.

As massive, steel cranes dominate Akron’s skyline to construct the new building, cranes of a far more delicate sort have been rising up as well.

While planning and beginning construction, the design team took on a team-building exercise to fold 1,000 origami paper cranes. Their efforts culminated recently into a breathtaking bouquet of color, camaraderie and compassion.

The goal was to fold 1,000 cranes to send to the Children’s Peace Monument, also known as the Tower of 1,000 Cranes, in Hiroshima, Japan.

Norio Tsuchiya Vice President HKS

Norio Tsuchiya

“We were looking for a way to connect the building team to a story of compassion, and we thought of this wonderful story of Sadako Sasaki,” said Norio Tsuchiya, vice president of HKS Inc. in Dallas, which is helping manage the building project.

A survivor of the bombing of Hiroshima during World War II, Sadako was diagnosed with leukemia in 1954 as a sixth-grader. She began folding paper cranes in observance of the Japanese tradition that a wish will be granted upon folding 1,000 cranes. She wished for healing and peace.

Sadly, Sadako died and fell short of her goal, but galvanized her community. They picked up on her cause and eventually built the Peace Memorial Park.

Today, people and groups from around the world send batches of 1,000 cranes as a sign of their common wishes for peace and healing.

paper-cranes_1004Tsuchiya suggested to Grace Wakulchik, chief operating officer for Akron Children’s, that the construction team could produce 1,000 cranes during the course of their construction planning. So during those odd, trapped moments of downtime that are inevitable in group work, team members began folding.

“It became a story of hope and a group coming together for a common cause,” said Tsuchiya. “We went through the story of why we were doing it, we put together a short slide show to explain how to do it, and we left a giant pile of origami paper in the ‘big room.’” (The “big room” is a room in the Cedar-Locust building that is dedicated to the planning of the new building.)

As various engineers, architects, contractors, medical staff, support staff and others passed through the room, they had an opportunity to contribute to the crane-folding cause. It took a little more than a year for a hundred or more people to fold the 1,000 cranes.

In August, they sent their cranes to be displayed among thousands more at Peace Memorial Park.

“This was very tied in with Akron Children’s mission and vision,” said Tsuchiya. “It was all about hope.”

Simulations help team design most efficient ER

Dr. Gregg DiGiulio examines a mannequin during a simulation to help design the new ER.

A 15-month-old lies in an ER trauma room after being transported by EMS from an adult hospital. Lab results indicate possible kidney failure.

A 6-month-old suffering seizures is being treated in an ER patient room.

A baby has been found not breathing in a bassinette by a babysitter and has been brought to the ER by EMS.

A normal day in Akron Children’s Hospital’s ER?  Not today.

These are 30-minute simulations being played out at the warehouse in Green Township. They’re helping the ER team in its continuing effort to design the most efficient ER, which will be part of the hospital’s new Critical Care Tower.

In previous sessions, the ER team defined equipment needs, room sizes, basic layouts, and the location of support services.

Dr. Mary Patterson is part of the team helping design the new ER and trauma space in the new critical care tower.

This week, ER team members are enacting simulation scenarios created by Dr. Mary Patterson and her staff in the simulation center, to refine the details of the space and determine how it actually works in practice with a patient.

This means fine tuning what’s in the rooms and where everything is placed. Is equipment easily accessed or in the way of staff providing patient care?

ER staff members are assigned roles to play – residents, attending physicians, medical nurses, procedure nurses, recording nurses, respiratory therapists, x-ray techs, anesthesia assistants, observing students, child life specialists, even distraught parents – to evaluate how well the space and equipment work for each member of the team.

The team surrounds the “patients” – mannequins with pulses, eyes that react to light, and breathing and heart sounds – to test the placement and functionality of equipment.

These simulations are videotaped, and with Dr. Patterson leading the debriefing sessions that immediately follow the simulations, team members watch the videos and talk about their own experiences to identify what’s working and what needs to be changed.

As the week progresses and equipment and cart placements are decided, slow-motion simulations will be used to confirm that medications and critical equipment are within the reach of all members of the team, from the tallest to the shortest.  Simulations will also capture patient care at and from ambulance bays.

All of these workshops taking place at the warehouse are part of what’s called a Kaizen, a rapid process improvement event. This will be the last Kaizen meeting for the ER team. Refinements made in this session will be reflected in the completed architectural drawings due by March 8.

How the ER team will boost efficiency and reduce costs in new space

Akron Children’s ER design team runs through patient scenarios to find ways to create the most value in the design of our new ER.

As our teams assemble to discuss and collaborate on best practices and design of Akron Children’s Hospital’s new $200 million critical care tower, participants continue to experience “Ah, ha!” moments.

This week, the ER team ran through patient scenarios, using mannequins and equipment, to test how effectively the staff can move throughout the current design space.

What they realized was that exploring all options – even if there are some that will be ruled out – helps identify new, unexplored possibilities.

Throughout the integrated project delivery (IPD) process, design teams have been challenged to find ways to maximize efficiency and reduce space, creating the most value in the design.

The ER team realized that they could save money and increase flexibility within the space by reducing the amount of built-in storage and using a cart system to store and move supplies around.

They brainstormed possible cart combinations and then discussed how those carts could be used and stored. By not having identical medical equipment housed in each room, we save space and money.

In the future, if equipment needs updated, there will be fewer units to update, reducing expenses.

In addition, carts provide flexibility because the staff can customize the room to the patient’s situation by bringing in only the equipment they need.

This group also talked a lot about doors – their size, hardware function and open/close timing. In January, they’ll return to the warehouse for patient simulations using sample doors from manufacturers.

Parents weigh in on design of future NICU

Moms who consider themselves “NICU grads” received a detailed look at how Akron Children’s new NICU is taking shape and weighed in on some remaining questions posed by the architects.

About a dozen parents attended a focus group Nov. 13, led by HKS architect Rachel Saucier and HKS interior designers Beck Luthman and Andrea Sponsel.

Saucier showed parents the most up-to-date architectural renderings of the hospital’s new critical care tower, which will also include a new ER and outpatient surgical suite.

She also showed NICU floor plans, which will include 75 private rooms, including a few to accommodate twins.

“From an industry perspective, single rooms are the way to go,” said Saucier. “They are family-centered and say, ‘We want you to be here.’ Plus, they support what the infant needs. Private rooms allow you to adjust the light, sound and temperature for each infant’s needs.”

The current floor plans show all patient rooms along the perimeter so each room will have a window view.

Each room will include the baby’s isolette and a reclining chair that’s ideal for a parent practicing “kangaroo care,” skin-to-skin cuddling which has been proven beneficial for newborns in many ways. Each room will also have a sleep sofa, TV and a private bathroom.

Infants arriving from either helicopter or ground transport will reach the floor via centrally-located elevators.

“One of the biggest drivers behind our design is to move the infants as little as possible,” said Saucier.

The architects were looking for parent feedback in several areas: what they especially liked about the current NICU and what they wanted in the future NICU’s private rooms and shared spaces.

Megan Pollock, who spent 10 weeks in the NICU with her son, would love to recreate the look and feel of the hospital’s Reinberger Family Center.

“Some people spend weeks, if not months, in the NICU,” she said. “As much as possible, you want it to have the comfort of home.”

Parents asked about the possibility of having a chapel/meditation room in the NICU and if siblings would be allowed in the private patient rooms.

Mary Beth Fry suggested the name “quiet room” instead of “consultation room.”

“Consultation room sounds scary to me,” she said. “It sounds like a place I am going to get bad news.”

The architects asked parents to write comments on colorful Post-It Notes, using the prompts, “I think.” “I hear.” “I feel.” “I see.”

Post-it notes shared on a wall in the room expressed thoughts such as:

  • “I see my baby here, comfortable and welcoming.”
  • I feel my privacy is being respected.”
  • I hear by baby’s siblings playing with toys nearby.”
  • I think, Wow, this is in Akron?”

Saucier said the meeting was worthwhile in that the parents voiced several ideas the architects need to consider more closely.

“A hot topic was having a good place to clean and store moms’ breast-pumping equipment,” she said. “Security [keeping babies safe yet allowing parents easy access to them] was also very top of mind for these parents. It’s something we have talked about but this meeting really reinforced the importance of getting it right.”

Learn more about Akron Children’s Building on the Promise project.

No kid wants surgery, but here’s to making the process the best it can be

How do we build a same-day surgery center that satisfies the needs and desire of everyone – patients, patient families, doctors, anesthesiologists, nurses and surgical support teams?

As Akron Children’s Hospital moves forward with its plans to build a $200 million critical care tower, teams continue to meet, brainstorm and test out architectural designs in a true-to-scale setting during weeklong Kaizens. Kaizen is a Lean term that refers to improving processes continually by making incremental changes.

Parents Beth Tenda and Judy Doyle participate in the Kaizen to design the new outpatient surgery space.

In September, a team representing outpatient surgery gathered in a warehouse, where cardboard-like walls defined surgical suites, recovery rooms, pre-op areas and other spaces and allowed doctors, nurses and patients to move through their typical day.

As the Kaizen began, several issues were front and center:

  • The need to create the ideal number of surgical suites based on current patient volumes as well as future growth.
  • The need to keep the ORs running as efficiently as possible, taking into consideration the ebb and flow of higher and lower volume procedures, as well as planned and emergency cases.
  • Focus on flow – How much walking will be required for patient families, as well as the doctors and nurses?
  • Movement of supplies in and out of the ORs. Surgical instruments come into the room sterile and the proper equipment must be assembled for each case, whether it’s an ENT procedure, an eye surgery or an orthopedic case.
  • Providing a calm environment that promotes privacy.

As the week began, it felt like this was an impossible task to come up with a floor plan that addressed all of these concerns and made everyone – from the anesthesiologists to the surgeons and the surgical support team – happy.

We were reminded again that Akron Children’s is a dedicated pediatric hospital and that children are not “just small adults.” The team worked to ensure excellent sight lines of patients in the recovery unit design to enhance patient safety.

“Unlike an adult hospital, children in the recovery unit don’t necessarily stay in bed,” said clinical coordinator Tina Sanzone, RN, BSN. “We need to have patients in view to ensure patient safety.”

The team went through phases of anticipation, discouragement and hope as each day welcomed success, frustration and new architectural drawings of the space. Each layout, when constructed three-dimensionally, generated dissatisfaction that the ideal plan still had not been developed.

Until Day Four.

When the exhausted team found their architectural team had worked overnight to meld the best ideas from two of the previous designs, they realized they finally had a winner.

The last design greatly improved patient flow. It offered easy access to storage. Doctors and nurses were not wasting extra steps within surgical suites or between them and other key spaces. The plan built in flexibility for growth and change down the road.

“The translation of design from paper to three dimensions can be eye opening,” said Beth Carr, MSN, MBA, RN, director of Nursing for Surgical Services. “When you see a design on paper, you envision it to work correctly. It’s not until you are actually in the space, and moving within it, that you realize it may not be ideal. The process takes time and patience. When you think there are no options, options present themselves.”

Video: Child life specialists weigh in on Akron Children’s new critical care tower

Our child life specialists play a critical role in helping to reduce stress and anxiety for children and families before, during and after medical procedures. It’s a perspective they’re sharing with the team planning and building the new $200-million critical care tower at Akron Children’s Hospital.

Help us build a better hospital

Akron Children’s Hospital hosted its first family focus group in August to help design its new critical care tower.

Akron Children’s Hospital is seeking families to share their vision for a new ER and outpatient surgery center during the second in a series of family focus groups on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Our new critical care tower will be designed to enhance the quality, family-centered care we’ve been providing for more than 120 years.

Patient families offer an important perspective in the planning process.

“Your input will help us ensure the space is created as a healing environment for patients and families,” said Judy Doyle, parent advisor coordinator at Akron Children’s Hospital.

Parents are encouraged to bring their children ages 9 and older because we’d like their opinions too.

To attend or for more information, contact Judy at 330-543-3072 or jdoyle@chmca.org. Space is limited.

Check out the August family focus group.

Parents, kids create wish list for their ‘dream’ hospital

In a free-wheeling exchange of ideas, the parents who participated in a focus group to help design Akron Children’s Hospital’s new critical care tower clearly love much about the current facility. They hope to see Akron Children’s culture preserved as it grows bigger.

Parents used phrases like, “comfortable,” “bright,” “warm,” “clean” when asked, “What should be the first impression of Akron Children’s?”

Sarah Sanford said she hopes the new hospital tower will remain a place where “everyone you meet with knows your child.”

Megs Pollock and Jackie Smolinski agreed with that sentiment, adding that they didn’t want the new building to be “too sterile,” or to “look like an airport terminal.” In other words, even if it is big, make it feel small.

Parents attending the session included mothers who had newborns in Akron Children’s NICU as well as those who come to the hospital often with children who have complex healthcare needs.

While the parents talked about what they wanted in the new building, a group of kids were in a nearby room drawing pictures of their “dream” hospital and sharing their own opinions.

While Michelle Ott talked about the importance of having automatic, wheelchair-accessible doors that her daughters could open themselves, 13-year-old Jenna Ott drew a picture of a hospital room with a canopy bed, a “gummy bear” bean bag chair, and lots of pink and purple.

Jenna’s design was conservative compared to other kids who envisioned robots, roller coasters, an ice rink and a beach incorporated into the new hospital.

“I love that kids were invited to this event and that they have a say,” said Michelle.

Jenna has had 20 surgeries so far in her young life and older sister, Alix, who also attended, has undergone more than 50 surgeries. The Ott girls were excited to think that they may actually see some of their ideas in place when the hospital tower opens in 2015.

The parents were also asked what they appreciated about the existing facilities, what they would like to change, and the best way to create a healing environment.

Parents associated healing with kind-hearted, friendly people, serene colors, natural light, music and water.

MaryBeth Fry said NICU moms would get hope from seeing pictures of preemies juxtaposed with pictures of the same children doing well in middle school, high school or college.

Even if the NICU gets bigger – with individual rooms – Fry and the other moms want the new space to balance their need for privacy while giving them the opportunity to meet, develop a support group and maybe even become lifelong friends.

“Research shows that when you reduce stress for parents, you reduce stress for the child,” HKS architect, Rachel Saucier, told the group.