Recently I had the opportunity to tour the newly expanded and renovated Nationwide Children’s Hospital here in Columbus, Ohio. A group of local bloggers, all of them were parents except for me, had the chance to take this tour. I was asked to attend because of my interest in child health and wellness. Although I don’t have kids…and when I do I hope I’ll never have to spend time in the hospital, I’m glad I went on the tour because it was fun to see just how much work they’ve put into this hospital.
One of the things that stood out most to me was the decor. The hospital worked with a design team from New York, but the head designer actually grew up in Columbus, so that was a neat connection! They obviously worked very hard to make the entire hospital as bright and cheery as possible, so that it would seem welcoming and less scary to the kids who have to spend time there.
There were large wooden animals placed around the hospital to make the hallways more inviting and a magical forrest outside the cafe which would be great to help entertain siblings of sick kids who are stuck in the hospital while their parents are with their sick brothers and sisters. They have a playroom on every floor for the kids in the hospital but also have a special siblings playroom with a wishing tree where the kids can hang wishes for their siblings to get well soon.
It wasn’t all just pretty colors though. We saw the ER and trauma rooms that were state of the art and included things like heat lamps and towel warmers. They are also big proponents of letting the parents be in the trauma rooms with their children if they want to instead of banishing them to the waiting room.
The rooms themselves were also really nice. They told us how before they built them, they spraypainted an outline of the walls, actually put the furniture in and brought kids over in wheel chairs to move around in the room and see how they could best maximize the space by moving the closest and bathroom around to different locations. Then they built a few rooms and invited people in to give feedback. After that, they tore the rooms down and rebuilt them based on that feedback. They included things like a light-up wall behind the bed. The kids can pick what color they want it to stay on each day. They put magnetic paint on one of the walls so they can hang up cards that they get from their friends at school. And they installed large flat-screen tvs that will eventually be used to order meals, watch tv and provide nutrition education to patients.
In addition, they built a classroom where kids can spend time working with an on-staff teacher if they’re going to be missing a lot of school and they can also skype with their classmates.
There are also some pretty good views out the windows! They built a garden on top of the underground parking garage to make the grounds look more inviting.
They also had some transitional rooms, which are basically set up like a small apartment, with a working kitchen and appliances. Just before the kids are ready to go home, parents can live with them in these transition rooms and practice caring for them, cooking, etc while nurses are still nearby if they need help. They also had a model kitchen with pull-down shelves, etc to help kids newly in wheel-chairs practice becoming more self-sufficient.
Along with the model kitchen, they had a restaurant booth, a bookshelf simulating a library and a counter representing a trayline at school with shelves to grab food and a keypad to punch in their school ID number. All of these allow injured kids and teenagers to practice doing everyday tasks and acclimating to their injuries or conditions before leaving the hospital. They also had real car, minus the engine, that could be raised/lowered to the heights of different cars so parents could practice getting their kids in and out of the vehicle and storing the wheelchair in the trunk…things they might not be used to doing.
Some other facts I jotted down during the tour:
- There are colored pathway times in the floor to make it easy to direct parents and kids to certain areas of the hospital.
- They doubled the number of exam rooms in the ER and made separate pods of acute, non-acute and specialty care.
- They had an RN help design the trauma area so that everything flowed well and patients could be treated quickly & effectively
- The care carts and closets are exactly the same on all the floors so floating nurses don’t have to spend time looking for things and can spend more time focusing on the patient.
- They use Voicera, a nurse tracking system so that they can always locate nurses on the floor without using a disruptive paging system. Voicera also allows nurses to talk to each other and allows them to call Spongebob or Dora if they need to distract a kid while drawing blood or something.
At the end of the tour there was an opportunity for us to ask questions for a panel of hospital employees including an RD and two doctors. A few nutrition-focused things I learned:
- They have on-demand food service and will do whatever they can to get sick kids to eat whenever they want to/are able to.
- They post the nutrition info near all the foods in their cafeteria.
- They serve very few fried foods.
- They serve no sugared beverages.
- They work hard to promote the idea of making healthy food choices to both their staff, their patients and the families of their patients.
Overall I was really impressed with how hard the hospital worked to be able to provide the best medical care for the kids who come there. They want what’s best for their patients, but they also care about their families. Thanks to Nationwide Children’s Hospital for a chance to go on this tour!