Designed by Families for Families
by Sue DeWerff
An array of eight colorful mood enhancing lights shine through the windows by night from the patient rooms of Central Florida’s newest seven-story pediatric facility, Nemours Children’s Hospital. They not only create one of the most dramatic additions to the area’s skyline, but give sick children the ability to add a sense of control to their environment.
The $397 million, 630,000 square feet, state-of-the-art hospital that anchors a 60-acre, fully-integrated health campus in the heart of Lake Nona’s Medical City not only provides the area’s chronically ill children specialized pediatric care, but is an asset most communities could only dream of having.
Nemours Children’s Hospital is part of one of the nation’s largest public health systems – it owns and operates the Alfred I. duPont Hospital in Wilmington, DE, along with specialty clinics in four states, including the Nemours Clinic located on Spyglass Hill Road in Viera.
It’s All About the Families
Before ground was ever broken, plans for every aspect of the pediatric facility – from the design of the 95 patient rooms, 18 of which are private, to the gardens, and to choosing a staff that helps save children’s lives – were made with the help of Central Florida families, who told them exactly how they would like care delivered; and it was their vision that makes the hospital like no other.
Led by Nemours’ Board of Directors, who witnessed the growth of the pediatric population in the region, a Family Advisory Council consisting of a group of parents, many with ill children, provided feedback and shared their insight as to what future patients and families would want and need at Nemours.
The Human Resources Department at Nemours trained members of the advisory group in behavioral interview techniques and gathered opinions from local moms and dads who were instrumental in helping with everything from choosing the furniture in the rooms, to recruiting many of the 80 highly-trained physicians who now staff the hospital.
Receiving this feedback from the families has proven to be indispensable according to Nemours Children’s Hospital CEO and senior vice president Roger Oxendale. “Incorporating the feedback from each candidate interviewed has only strengthened our commitment to recruiting the best health care providers, and even challenged my own opinions in ways that will ultimately have a positive impact on the service we now provide.”
Assembling a Dream Team
The staff at Nemours, led by Dr. Lane Donnelly, Vice-President, Chief Medical Officer and physician-in-chief, includes nationally recognized names, including Dr. Terri Finkel, a pediatric rheumatologist and Dr. Ken Liechty, fetal surgeon-in-chief, both of whom are the first specialists of their kind to practice in the southeast. They will join other world-class physicians to offer the finest treatment in pediatric rheumatology, interventional radiology, comprehensive physical and rehabilitation medicine, and more.
According to executives, Nemours has already become deeply involved in collaborative efforts with other teaching and research facilities in the area. Because of its prime location, which neighbors the University of Central Florida’s College of Medicine, the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the MD Anderson Research Institute and the University of Florida’s Medical Research Center, Nemours is now poised to work synergistically with these premier research and academic health facilities and offers an option for area medical students to fulfill their residency and possible fellowships. Also, because of its close proximity to the Orlando International Airport, the hospital will provide easy access for families traveling from areas both nationwide and abroad seeking care for their children.
In addition to the Medical City location, which makes Nemours unique in itself, the technology inside the hospital is second to none. In the patient rooms, for example, computer scanners detect which employee’s badge has entered the room, displaying the name and position of the employee upon a screen near the patient’s bed. This is just one the many highly-sophisticated features present throughout the facility.
Each of the seven operating rooms – which are oversized and with windows to allow natural light to flood in, contain an armory of lifesaving medical equipment and $1.5 million worth of instruments to help premature babies struggling to breathe and children enduring complex spinal operations – are beyond state-of-the-art.
Creating Healing Environments
Among other features that top the list making Nemours Children’s Hospital truly “one-of-a-kind” is the fact that the entire hospital is built within a garden and features two rooftop balcony gardens. Guided by project architect, Mike Cluff, this design concept was used with the understanding of how nature plays an important role in the healing process and promotes patients’ recovery.
A one-acre interactive sensory discovery garden that surrounds the actual hospital building itself, includes lushly planted trees and flowers and features xylophone benches, a hedge maze, sculptured water features and percussion art. “We took advantage of the large amount of space available to incorporate natural settings into the overall design of Nemours, both inside and out,” Cluff explained.
A 40-year-old, Sand Live Oak, surrounded by native foliage, walking paths and wheelchair accessible ramps, is located on the fourth floor balcony rooftop, next to the rehabilitation area. The 10,000-square-foot garden area, designed with the help of occupational and physical therapists who now work at Nemours, provides an environment surrounded by nature for young patients to perform physical therapy exercise.
Another 7,000-square-foot garden area, located on the second floor surgical commons area, offers a place where families can gather while their child is in surgery, as well as quiet refuge for Nemours’ staff.
A 1,300-gallon aquarium that brings the undersea world into the imaging area is among one of the hospital’s most popular amenities.
Tami Anderson, RN, director of critical care services, who has been a pediatric nurse for 28 years, said she feels very fortunate be a part of Nemours Children’s Hospital. “Of all the hospitals I have worked in, I have never seen anything that comes close to the design and amenities that this facility offers. One of my most memorable experiences here at Nemours was when I watched two children chasing a butterfly in one of the garden areas,” she said.
She added, “Research has proven that a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere surrounded by nature lends itself to healing, and that is a major part of what Nemours now provides, as well as some of the finest physicians and other amenities I have ever seen in a hospital.”
Connecting With the Space Coast
Since last year, a growing partnership with Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center and Nemours Children’s Hospital has further strengthened the Space Coast’s ability to provide children with world-class pediatric health care as well. A 24-hour Pediatric Hospitalist Program, staffed by Nemours physicians, has reduced the need to transport patients out of the county, helping local pediatric doctors with necessary inpatient rounds that would otherwise limit their ability to see patients in their offices. The Pediatric Hospitalist provides a range of care to hospitalized children and serves as an attending physician while also overseeing the coordination of services and communication with the primary care doctor and family.
“We look forward to our continued work together that will ultimately lead to better outcomes for children,” said Bonnie Rudolph, Chief Nursing Officer at Health First.
Nemours Children’s Hospital is also working with primary care physicians throughout the central Florida area to ensure every child receives the best care possible. The hospital’s advanced comprehensive electronic medical record system, NemoursOne, strives to ensure each of its patients is being tracked along the way, whether they are treated at one of the partnering clinics or in the hospital.
Prevention also remains as one of Nemours’ primary health goals, and is part of their commitment to caring for children. Two of the major initiatives are Nemours Bright Start! early literacy program, which helps to identify and teach children at risk for reading failure, and Nemours Florida Prevention Initiative, which implements policies and practices outside of the clinical environment promoting child health. One of the most prominent programs under this initiative, the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign, focuses on childhood obesity, encouraging healthy emotions and behaviors in young children.
With an eye on the future, Nemours Children’s Hospital has been designed to adapt to the ever-changing challenges in medicine and health care for children moving into the 21st century. The combination of clinical, research and academic components available, will no doubt make Nemours Children’s Hospital unlike any other pediatric facility in the area.
Click here to take a Video Tour of Nemours Children’s Hospital.
Nemours Children’s Hospital
13535 Nemours Parkway
Lake Nona Medical City
The Nemours Hospitals are the legacy of founder Alfred I. duPont, who firmly believed that “it is the duty of everyone in the world to do what is within his power to alleviate human suffering.” Mr. duPont’s words and his legacy of compassion have lived on for more than 70 years through the care and services provided to children and families at Nemours. The journey began in 1936 with the formation of The Nemours Foundation under the terms of duPont’s will; it began to deliver on his vision in 1940 when the Alfred I. duPont Institute, a pediatric orthopedic hospital in Wilmington, DE, opened its doors.
In addition to the Nemours hospital in Orlando, they also have Specialty Care Clinics in Destin, Jacksonville, Lake Mary, Orange Park, Pensacola and Viera. The Nemours Hospital system treats over 250,000 children annually.
Nemours was named after the duPont family’s ancestral home in France. The Nemours Mansion and Gardens is the 222-acre estate of the late industrialist and philanthropist, Alfred I. duPont, and his wife, Jessie Ball duPont, located adjacent to the grounds of the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE.