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Getting Closer to the Dream of Golisano Children's Hospital

We get a preview of the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida facilities as it counts down to its March 2017 grand opening.

An artist rendering of the new Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida


Eighty-two days.

That’s what the electronic countdown read on the first floor of the under-construction Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida one afternoon earlier this week.

An artist rendering of a lobby area

It marks the days until the state Agency for Healthcare Administration inspectors descend on the building to (hopefully) give their blessings, allow the state’s newest children’s hospital to open—and realize a dream decades in the making.

Kathy Bridge-Liles, the hospital’s chief administrative officer, along with Eric Anderson, the senior project manager; Dr. Emad Salman, the medical director; and other Lee Health administrators offered a sneak peek at what’s to come.

Seven stories tall, the hospital is adjacent to HealthPark Medical Center, where the existing children’s hospital has lived its 22 years. The kids’ wings are separated from the adult ones, but the building’s dual purposes have always felt strangely juxtaposed—like finding an elementary school thrust inside an office complex.

The new hospital screams “Kids!” from the Crayola-bright colors to the roll-out stepstools installed in the cabinetry. (Adult services will expand and diversify once the kids move into their new home.)

“We’ve made a joke that the kids are never going to get to where they need to go,” Bridge-Liles says, leading the way down a purple-hued hallway where interactive installations will hang.

An artist rendering of a patient room

The $250 million, 300,000-square-foot building will be awash in both the latest of medical technologies—such as the Voalte communication system that sends neonatal alarms to nurses’ handheld devices in order to create a quieter environment—to whimsy such as color-changing lights and snug alcoves.

The building allows for a new model of caregiving for the neonates—those premature or sick babies who spend their first weeks or months in high-tech incubators. The current neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) consists of 48 isolettes placed side by side in an open ward. The new NICU’s 64 beds are each in separate bedrooms, with a suite designated for twins. Parents of neonates—and kids of any other age—can bunk in. All rooms were designed to accommodate family. There will be a total of 128 patient beds, up from the current 98.

The hospital includes a new children’s-only emergency room, providing targeted care for young patients—and taking upset kids out of the way of unwell grown-ups.

The promise of a new hospital—and a growing population of young patients—has lured some 48 new pediatric specialists here since 2010, doubling the medical staff. Once the building opens, some 200 additional people from nurses to housekeepers will join the team, for a total of nearly 600 staff.

Grand opening celebrations will be held during the week of March 27, with the culminating ribbon-cutting on April 1. Patients will be moved on May 4, quite possibly the longest month ever for a medical community that’s been waiting years to see this dream happen.


We'll be sure to tell you more about the new hospital in the months to come, but for now, read our previous in-depth feature on the children's hospital here.


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