Community open house set for April 26 to celebrate opening of Kay Jewelers Pavilion

Kay Jewelers PavilionHere’s your first chance to step inside Akron’s newest gem and celebrate our community’s most precious jewels – kids.

Patient families, friends and the general public are invited to take their first look inside Akron Children’s Hospital’s new $180 million Kay Jewelers Pavilion at a community open house from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 26.

The open house will include:

  • guided tours of our new ER, NICU, GOJO Outpatient Surgery Center and special delivery unit for high-risk newborns
  • kids’ games and activities, including life-size versions of popular board games and a photo booth
  • entertainment, including performances by local kids, puppeteers, costumed characters and a bubble artist
  • Doggie Brigade volunteers

Attendees will also have an opportunity to draw pictures that will become part of a permanent, public artwork at the hospital.

A Look Inside

Kay Jewelers Pavilion lobby

Kay Jewelers Pavilion lobby

The interior of Kay Jewelers Pavilion features a “backyard” theme echoing the joys of childhood and the idea that Akron Children’s has been a treasure in greater Akron’s own backyard since 1890.

“Akron Children’s was founded 125 years ago this year as a day nursery and has grown into a regional health system with the depth and breadth of clinical services that truly enable us to serve all of the children who need us,” said Bill Considine, president and chief executive officer of Akron Children’s. “Every detail of Kay Jewelers Pavilion has been carefully planned with our patient families in mind – and we are thrilled to finally open our doors and invite everyone to see this exciting investment into our children’s well being.”

In following the backyard theme, our new NICU is “The Treehouse” – a soothing, healing environment where families can be comfortable while neonatologists and specially trained nurses care for the youngest and most fragile of infants.

In keeping with the backyard theme of the Kay Jewelers Pavilion, our new ER has a puddle theme

In keeping with the backyard theme of the Kay Jewelers Pavilion, our new ER has a puddle theme

Our ER, nicknamed “The Puddle,” was especially designed to facilitate a more natural flow of admissions.

The GOJO Outpatient Surgery Center, “The Sandbox,” will open with 4 operating rooms equipped for a variety of outpatient procedures, including ENT, ophthalmology, urology, dental and some plastic surgery cases.

Our new labor, delivery and recovery center, known as “The Garden,” is designed for cases when a baby is considered at high risk and in need of pediatric specialists the moment they are born.

Designing the best high-risk delivery area for mom and baby (Video)

When Akron Children’s new medical tower opens in 2015, it will have a labor,  delivery and recovery area for high-risk newborns and their moms.

To ensure the space is designed to provide the best quality and efficiency, our maternal-fetal medicine staff – and parents served by the neonatal intensive care unit at Akron Children’s – participated in a design workshop in October.

The design approach, called Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), brings everyone involved in the project together to seek input before anything is designed.

Getting the details right

During the kaizen to design the new high-risk delivery area, mock scenarios were played out to test the various design concepts.

During the kaizen to design the new high-risk delivery area, mock scenarios were played out to test the various design concepts.

How many corners does a gurney need to turn on the trip between triage and the OR?

What is the best placement of the bed in a patient room to ensure maximum privacy?

Is there a need for refrigeration in the medications room for breast milk?

These and other considerations relating to patient and family comfort and privacy, as well as operational efficiency, represent the final refinements to the high-risk delivery space that will occupy the fourth and fifth floors of the new building.

Dana Nelson

Dana Nelson

“We looked at waiting and reception area flows – that is the family’s first impression,” said Dana Nelson, administrative director of Akron Children’s Maternal Fetal Medicine. “We also wanted to make a very smooth flow for the mothers with as few turns as possible. And we looked for opportunities to bring moms and babies closer together.”

The high-risk delivery space is being designed to accommodate a projected 100 patients annually, but will have plenty of room for expansion as the patient census grows.

The unit will serve pregnancies where the baby, not the mother, is high risk and is expected to need immediate care or surgery after delivery.

Dr. Stephen Crane, director of Akron Children's Maternal Fetal Medicine Division, participates in team discussions about the high-risk delivery space.

Dr. Stephen Crane, director of Akron Children’s Maternal Fetal Medicine Division, participates in team discussions about the high-risk delivery space.

For inspiration, the team, comprised of NICU nurses, representatives from Maternal Fetal Medicine, architects and trade partners, anesthesia, IT and other support services, and former NICU parents, looked at similar high-risk delivery departments at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, C.S. Mott and Denver Children’s.

Then they began the now-familiar process, previously used to design the NICU, ER and ambulatory surgery spaces, of mocking up the high-risk delivery space with cardboard as well as actual furnishings and equipment at a warehouse in Akron.

kaizen-team-in-cardboard-seThe mock unit included LDRP (labor-delivery-recovery-postpartum) patient rooms with bathrooms, triage bays, a waiting room and family lounge, C-section/ NICU ORs, a resuscitation room, an ultrasound room, a medications room, an anesthesia work room, consult and conference rooms, a nursery and team work areas.

writing-notes-on-wall-postiDesigned for maximum access, the ORs lead directly into a resuscitation room, where the baby can be stabilized before being moved to the NICU in the adjacent elevator.  Dads can easily move between Mom in the OR and the newborn in the resuscitation room.

When Mom has recovered, she has easy access to her newborn in the NICU via a short elevator ride, instead of being transported from another hospital.

“We also had to talk about those outcomes that aren’t what we hope for,” Nelson said. “We created peaceful, private bereavement space for families.”

Dr. Anand Kantak, director of neonatology at Akron Children's, brings up points about the design concepts.

Dr. Anand Kantak, director of neonatology at Akron Children’s, brings up points about the design concepts.

With team members playing the roles of patients, doctors, nurses and family members, the team continued to move beds, chairs, carts and equipment, until they were sure that the space provided the best patient experience.

At the end of the workshop, team members expressed amazement at the number of details they had to consider in designing a space that was workable for both patients and staff . . .  and the big difference that moving a single door can make in assuring both privacy and efficient treatment.

Team planning high-risk birth center has 182 collective years of OB experience

Scott Radcliff, of Hasenstab Architects, leads a brainstorming session.

Scott Radcliff, of Hasenstab Architects, leads a brainstorming session.

Last month, Akron Children’s announced that it would dedicate a floor in its new building to high-risk deliveries – a milestone in the hospital’s 123-year history.

This has long been a dream of hospital leaders like President and CEO Bill Considine, as well as the doctors who head up the hospital’s maternal fetal medicine and fetal treatment centers and neonatal intensive care unit.

Now comes the work to make this dream a reality.

Dr. Anand Kantak has long supported the plan to bring high-risk deliveries to Akron Children's as the ideal family-centered care.

Dr. Anand Kantak has long supported the plan to bring high-risk deliveries to Akron Children’s as the ideal family-centered care.

The first steps in planning the new space, which will be on the 4th floor of the medical building already under construction, took place Aug. 5 and 6.

A team of about 20 doctors, nurses, architects, administrators and Lean Six Sigma experts participated in a kaizen (Japanese word for “rapid improvement”) to give key stakeholders a say in how the space is designed.

A high-risk OB patient also participated the first day.

“Delivering babies on our campus may be uncharted territory for us, yet the doctors and nurses in this room have a collective 182 years of experience delivering babies at other hospitals,” said Lisa Aurilio, vice president for patient services and chief nursing officer.

Chief Nursing Officer Lisa Aurilio has also participated in kaizens for the ER and NICU.

Chief Nursing Officer Lisa Aurilio has also participated in kaizens for the ER and NICU.

The plan is to deliver approximately 100 babies per year when prenatal diagnosis determines the baby to be at risk and in need of immediate medical intervention by pediatric surgeons or other specialists upon birth.

This would include babies with congenital heart and neural tube defects, diaphragmatic hernias, and abnormalities that may affect the airway.

The team began by creating a vision statement for the new center. This was done by participants writing responses to prompts like, “I see…”, “I hear…”, “I think…” and “I feel….”

The input of the team members suggest they want to create an environment that's inviting, comfortable and focused on the highest quality of care.

The input of the team members suggest they want to create an environment that’s inviting, comfortable and focused on the highest quality of care.

Each team member was given 5 blue and 5 red dots to place on photos of the interiors of other birthing centers across the country. The exercise indicated the team is partial to soft rather than bright colors.

“They steered away from primary colors and starkness in favor of wood tones, a spa-like feel and interiors that convey home and comfort,” said Sherry Valentine, a project leader for Akron Children’s Mark A. Watson Center for Operations Excellence.

Sherry Valentine, Lean Six Sigma deployment leader, facilitates a group session.

Sherry Valentine, Lean Six Sigma deployment leader, facilitates a group session.

Other activities focused on issues of patient experience and staff work flows.

They looked at the proximity of operating rooms to patient rooms, how many steps doctors and nurses have to walk, storage space, the size and comfort level of the patient rooms, and the various “points of entry” for patients.

While most of these deliveries will be scheduled through maternal fetal medicine, the team also has to plan for the unexpected, including patients arriving via transport, 911 ambulance arrivals, and even the occasional “walk-in” mother-to-be in labor.

Jennie Evans, a registered nurse and medical planner with HKS Architects, offers insight.

Jennie Evans, a registered nurse and medical planner with HKS Architects, offers insight.

The team will make key decisions for the public/shared spaces, such as the waiting rooms, 3 ORs for C-sections, and 6 labor/delivery/recovery/postpartum rooms, which must also flexible enough to become 2 intensive care rooms and an isolation room, if needed.

Several participants talked about how the team “gelled” instantly and how they feel privileged to have a role in a history-making venture for Akron Children’s.

Drs. Melissa Mancuso and Stephen Crane are two of Akron Children's high-risk obstetricians.

Drs. Melissa Mancuso and Stephen Crane are two of Akron Children’s high-risk obstetricians.

“We are all very invested in this,” said Dr. Stephen Crane, director of maternal fetal medicine. “We have dreamed about this for years. It’s the right thing to do for our patients.”

Dr. Melissa Mancuso, co-director of the fetal treatment center, says the ability to perform high-risk deliveries will, over time, enable Akron Children’s to offer new treatment options, such as laser therapy for twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, ex utero intrapartum treatment (EXIT) procedure, fetal therapy for cardiac conduction abnormalities and in utero release of amniotic bands.

“Of course the best reason for doing this is it keeps moms with their babies and keeps families together under one [hospital] roof. You can’t put a value on that,” said Dr. Mancuso.

That’s not to say the process will be easy.

“The most challenging aspect of this for our hospital is thinking beyond babies and children as patients,” said Aurilio. “Now mothers will be our patients as well, and that has implications for everything we do from insurance contracts to medical coding to laboratory procedures.”

Final design workshop for NICU likened to “speed dating” [Photo Gallery]

Mary Beth Frye, Megan Pollock and nurse Sofiya Lizhnyak participate in NICU simulation

NICU family care coordinator Mary Beth Frye, Megan Pollock and nurse Sofiya Lizhnyak participate in a NICU simulation to test the new design space.

Akron Children’s Hospital’s NICU team began its final design kaizen with an approach that could be compared to speed dating.

The team broke into three small groups that rotated around full-sized cardboard mock-ups that represented patient rooms, medication rooms, team rooms, family and staff quiet rooms, supply and equipment rooms, pod work stations, and remote networking or “touchdown” rooms.

Each group had 45 minutes to review and discuss where every stationary and portable item should be placed in each room.

During a simulation scenario, Dr. Jen Grow and mock patient family test out the design of the new patient rooms

During a simulation scenario, Dr. Jen Grow and Megan Pollock test out the design of the new patient rooms.

The teams took the needs of NICU families into consideration – everything from how to provide coffee and tea service most economically and efficiently to the need for recliners in the quiet room for parents to hold their end-of-life babies.

“It’s been great to be able to give input on everything from the chair position in the patient room to the counter space and cabinets in the bathroom,” said Megan Pollock, a former NICU parent.

In all the rooms, the team discussed the smallest details:

  • How many and what types of seating are required?
  • How many phones and chargers for communication devices are needed?
  • What types of storage work most efficiently in different rooms?
  • Would white and cork boards be useful or compromise patient privacy?
  • What size windows provide the best compromise between visibility, privacy and cost?
  • What’s the best location for the breast milk and formula refrigerator and the meds refrigerator in the medication room?
  • Could crash carts be stored in the medication room?
  • Where is the best place to locate sinks to avoid splashing and possible contamination?
  • Are clutter free counters with storage shelves above the best approach?
  • Who will be responsible for cleaning and stocking items?

After the NICU team agreed on changes, they used simulation scenarios to confirm that they knew where to find what they needed and make sure the newly designed spaces work as planned.

“Participating in the simulations was awesome,” Megan said. “The newborn mannequin made the whole experience feel so real. When I practiced kangaroo care with it, I could feel the heart beat.”

The NICU team will now embark on two years of process refinement during the Critical Care Tower construction, culminating in the move to their new space in 2015.

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.

Putting the You in NICU

Jordan happy to see his NICU nurse, Betty, at the Kaizen to help design Akron Children’s Hospital’s new neonatal intensive care unit.

Jordan and I attended the mock-up of Akron Children’s new neonatal intensive care unit last month. To be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect. In fact I should have prepared ourselves for a longer stay with more snacks and distractions for the little man.

As usual he was a little distraction himself, however it appeared some of the staff needed a little sidetrack from being there for 2 ½ days and facing 2 ½ more. As we walked through he brought out his little trick of pointing at someone only to have a finger pointed back as he quickly snatched their finger and giggled with that two toothy grin.

The layout of the new floor is amazing. The cardboard layout gave a small glimpse of the size of what our new NICU will look like. The twin rooms were set up for the staff to break into two groups to discuss what they felt would best suit the staff and families.

Some discussions consisted of where a sink should be placed to allow counter space, whether a sliding door should be placed in between two rooms or a regular door with blinds. Another question was about where the linens and trash should be placed to decrease the amount of people who enter the room.

Megs and Jordan participate in discussions about new NICU.

Lots of questions we don’t typically think about when we’re sitting and watching our little ones as they’re being treated. I enjoyed watching the brainstorming take place. They were also gracious enough to ask what I thought as a parent.

The building staff asked where, as a parent, would I want to be if I was going to be discussing “news” about my child. Personally I felt a small conference room would be fine, and if a procedure would need to be done in our room, I would want to sit with Randy in the small common area close by.

After a break we took a pretend tour of what we would see as we entered the floor from the elevator. We considered what kind of greeting we would have and what would be promoted as a warm welcome scene. What would the kids’ area look like? Where should the bathrooms go? (Jordan spoke up that he would like to see kiddy potties that are lower to the ground.)

We also talked about the laundry room and refrigerators that allow families to store their food that they brought from home.

My thoughts wandered to the feeling we have when we enter the hospital’s Reinberger Family Center. I feel a sense of safety and security. It’s a place that allows my shoulders to relax a little and causes me to sigh if it’s ok.

My mind was zigzagging throughout the next night thinking of more ideas I would love to share.

Jordan sits in nurse Betty’s lap.

However, although buildings and facilities can help make you feel like you’re in a great place, what makes me feel like a million bucks are the people. It’s awesome to have a nurse or doctor see you after being away for 16 months and offer encouragement at how well your child looks.

It’s the people who make the experience.

As we entered the NICU reunion last month, we were greeted by the nurse who gave us the encouragement and knowledge about caring for our little peanut. She assisted in teaching Jordan and me about how to get the best nutrition possible through nursing.

As we sat next to his bedside she kept tabs on how Jordan was feeling through watching his monitors and taking care of his roommate. We gazed in awe as she effortlessly transferred him from his isolette to our chest for kangaroo care. There aren’t enough words to express what Betty means to our family.

Dr. Protain with Jordan and Megs at NICU Kaizen.

As we wrapped up our day, we were able to briefly catch up with Jordan’s first girlfriend, Dr. Protain. During our stay, when she made her rounds she would approach Jordan by stating, “there’s my boyfriend.”

I can’t tell you the warmth we felt as she interacted with him 16 months later. It is these types of experiences that makes Akron Children’s Hospital sparkle. I treasure the fact that we’ve had the honor of meeting so many angels through our experience, but it’s comforting to know these heroes put their capes on daily.

Read more about Megs’ and Randy’s journey of raising a child with spina bifida through her blog, Labor of Love.

How do you build the perfect children’s hospital tower? Ask Parents

Over the past 8 years or so we have had our fair share of hospital visits between my mom’s cancer, Jordan’s multiple visits, and welcoming new members into our family – not to mention my experience as an occupational therapist.

We’ve seen and experienced many hospitals in the area. We often take for granted the amazing healthcare systems that surround us. Until tonight we didn’t realize what goes into the planning of creating a place that is patient friendly and effective in their healthcare.

Randy and I were honored to join a group of parents in the planning process of building the new Akron Children’s Hospital medical tower. We found it to match up with the values to treat all patients like they were your own.

As parents, we were given an opportunity to give our point of view on what matters to us. What we like about the existing buildings, how we feel when we enter, what we would do differently, and what could be done to give a feeling of hope.

It was great to be able to bounce ideas around. We tried to envision an environment that would create a feeling of caring, and that alleviated as much stress to allow you to focus on the children being cared for in a nationally recognized facility.

The parents involved in this town hall meeting ranged from “frequent fliers” (those families who visit frequently), past parents, NICU parents, parents with multiple children receiving care, and members of the Akron Children’s Foundation.

The most popular ideas focused on creating an environment that involves warmth, creativity, informative and warm staff members, natural lighting, efficiency for patients receiving care from a variety of specialists, wheel chair accessibility, and the need for areas on the floors where families can relax in a monitor-free environment similar to the Reinberger Family Center.

Reflecting back on the ideas, I think of all the senses. If you close your eyes, what do you want to hear? Water, laughter, music? If you plug your ears, what do you want to see? Bright colors, smiles, pictures of healthcare providers with their patients, children’s art work? How about smell? Sterile, flowery, fruity?

We really didn’t talk about touch, but wouldn’t it be great to have areas for a type of tactile input. Maybe even an indoor playground. I truly think comfort is communication as well. Children who can’t read or for those of us who don’t look for signs to read, the follow the yellow brick road method is helpful.

The team also invited a hand-full of children to bring their creative juices into the process. They met with some child life specialists and an architect to give their view of how they feel about hospitals and what they would like to see in the future. They also created collages to show their ideas.

What better way to capture a place where the child feels comfortable and at ease? I really liked the idea of the flowers for the floors, the color purple for a sign of hope, and dinosaurs. I’m not sure the hissing sound of snakes is something that makes me feel at ease, but who knows, it may work for those who are reptile lovers.

We’ll see the ideas that are used. It’s all a process and we felt honored to be able to give back in a manner other than financially. We are so grateful for Akron Children’s and the treatment and hope they have given to our family and the families we’ve been honored to interact with.

Read more about Megs’ and Randy’s journey of raising a child with spina bifida through her blog, Labor of Love.


Akron Children’s Hospital to undertake $200 million expansion

Akron Children’s Hospital is launching a $200 million expansion of its Akron campus to meet the current and future needs of children and their families.

Called “Building on the Promise,” the expansion project is the result of significant growth in the hospital’s patient volumes and services.

“Our plan builds on the same promises we made in 1890 when we opened our doors,” said Bill Considine, president and CEO of Akron Children’s Hospital. “We treat each child as our own. We treat others as we would want to be treated. And we turn no child away regardless of the ability to pay. This expansion will ensure our ability to care for the next generation of children.”

Akron Children’s Hospital’s Future Campus Plan

The centerpiece of the plan – a critical care tower near Locust and Exchange streets – will include:

  • A new neonatal intensive care unit with individual rooms for each of the hospital’s tiniest patients and their parents. The current Level III NICU treats the highest level of premature and critically ill newborns and is nationally ranked but has outgrown its space.
  • A new ER with enough room to meet current and future patient volumes. Annual ER visits of more than 60,000 to the Akron campus strain the hospital’s resources in a facility built to accommodate 44,000.
  • Dedicated outpatient surgical suites to accommodate a more than doubling of outpatient procedures in the past 20 years.
  • Dedicated space for several of the hospital’s pediatric subspecialty programs, which keep the highest level of clinical expertise in the community and also help attract and retain nationally-known physicians. The hospital’s medical staff has grown 72 percent since 1991.

In addition, the plan calls for:

  • Expanding the Ronald McDonald House of Akron to accommodate the hospital’s growth.
  • A new six-level, 1,200 space parking deck, already under construction.
  • A new “front door” for the hospital – a child-focused patient and visitor welcome center that will streamline access to the campus.

Two thirds of the cost of the project will be covered through public financing and internal reserves. Philanthropy will play a key role in the success of the campus expansion.

The hospital plans a capital campaign to raise $50 million for the critical care tower and $10 million for the Ronald McDonald House expansion.

While Akron Children’s has made continual improvements, it has been 22 years since the hospital last undertook a major capital campaign.

“Our patient volumes have increased significantly and we are seeing patients from farther distances. Our main campus will always be the place for trauma cases and children needing the most critical care,” said Considine. “We hope to have the support of the community – from the business sector to the many individuals who have been touched in some way by the work we do at Akron Children’s on a daily basis.”

Construction will begin in the spring of 2013 and will be competed in 2015.

The companies assisting Akron Children’s with project management include: the Boldt Company, of Appleton, Wis.; Hasenstab Architects, Inc., of Akron; KLMK Group, of Richmond, Va.; HKS, Inc., of Dallas, Texas; and the Welty Building Company, of Akron.