SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Memorial Health’s Dwaine and Cynthia Willet Children’s Hospital of Savannah is a brand new stand-alone hospital designed especially for children. The $66 million, 90,000 square foot facility opened Tuesday.
It was a celebration years in the making.
For nearly 30 years, the children’s hospital was a hospital inside of a hospital, but now it is its own stand-alone building. On average, the children’s hospital treats 40,000 patients a year from 35 counties.
The new facility offers not only more space for children with 50 inpatient beds, but it also was specifically created just for kids, from the bright colors to writeable walls, family specific space and more.
Leaders said they knew their specially-trained pediatric team was top notch, but now the building matches the care.
“The best way I can describe it is pure joy. We have worked a long time to bring this here to Savannah and this day has made it all worth it. The care that we continue to provide for our patients now is going to be able to be offered in a state of the art facility,” Administrative Director Heather Newsome said.
There was so much thought into the building and how they could make a hospital environment better for children, and it was easy to see as patients moved in, they accomplished that goal.
“This is what we promised and this is what we sought out to do. This was the vision that many folks before us had for this facility and we’ve been able to bring that to the fruition,” said Newsome.
“It means so much to me knowing that this facility is here and that each child that comes here will know how much we care,” said Cynthia Willett, major benefactor.
One of the new elements of this facility is a brand new Pediatric ER. Meaning families can enter a separate space to receive care.
Doctors say its top of the line for families in emergencies.
“The minute you step through those doors you get the feeling and the sense that all this is being done for kids. It is trying to help them feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. We are taking attention to their needs the fears trying to lay those anxieties. We have child life specialists that intervene to help with the families and the kids that get to make them a little more comfortable and that’s something that I don’t think you can duplicate any place else expect for a children’s hospital,” said Dr. Brian Coleman, the medical director for Pediatric Emergency Room.
The ER is officially open 24/7 and they already have seen some patients come into the new space.
They thought of everything from bright colors to kid elements and intentional care to ensure the best experience for the families who need them.
“We really have kind of taken all their needs into account because it’s a stressful situation for anybody who comes into those doors. Parents, kids, so we want to try to take as much stress and allay many of those fears from the moment they step through,” said Dr. Coleman.
Doctors say as gratifying as today was, it is just the beginning of their family centric care at the children’s hospital.
The celebration wasn’t just for adults, but the very people the hospital was built for like, Kenslee. A four year old diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma. She moved into the new building to a much bigger room and applause. It was a space her parents are grateful for after being in the hospital since January.
“It helps out a lot knowing that we can be right here with her you know so if something happens we’re here and can be comfortable while we’re here with her,” said Ashley Hutchinson & Roy O’Berry, Kenslee’s Parents.
She was smiles and waves inside her new room.
“Just to see her happy is, it’s enough.”
That’s what this hospital is all about, bringing state of the art care to our backyard and supporting families.
“To have that in a town and magnitude of this size is just world class and it is really going to be the most positive thing to happen to children in a long time in this city,” said Cynthia Willett.
Today is just day one of a many the children’s hospital will be serving patients in the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry. Leaders say they are excited to enhance the patient experience long into the future.