Dwaine & Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital celebrates two years

The children’s hospital opened March 9, 2021
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 1:38 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Thursday marks two years since the Dwaine and Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital officially opened in Savannah.

Roughly five years after breaking ground they opened their doors on March 9, 2021.

A day that feels both like yesterday and an eternity away for the Assistant Chief Nursing Officer Heather Newsome.

“I’m like where has the time gone?”

From day one staff here at the hospital were put to the test one that Newsome says they were more than capable of meeting.

“Somehow we managed to open up this facility in the height of COVID and when you think about resilience and persistence this is the quintessential picture of that right there. The fact that we have been able to be in our community and help all these children, which is what we set out to do, is nothing short of amazing.”

Navigating a global pandemic and an influx of patients from more than 36 counties.

“Prior to opening this facility, we saw about 15,000 kids through our emergency department in the main facility. This past year we saw 45-thousand kids through the emergency department. What we have recognized is that the need is there, it was always here, the building just brought it to life more than we expected originally,” says Newsome.

The children’s hospital continually adapting to the ever-changing medical landscape utilizing not only their specialists and state of the art equipment but a holistic approach to healing.

“Healing is medicine, but it also is how we are able to engage that child in getting out of bed and feeling more normal, and that really helps the parent as well to see their child up and about,” Newsome says.

While they did their fair share of adapting Newsome also points to aspects of their original designs that have benefited patients.

“The wayfinding, right, that was intentional. We put colored lines on the floor, so patients and families knew which units they were going to, and I see people following that all the time. I think we’ve done a lot of things in this facility that are innovating and new that could really be translated to other facilities, if you think about it, things that worked well and could be impactful for patients and families.”

As for the future?

“That’s like my favorite thing to do is look toward the future and what are our next steps!” Newsome says.

Some of those steps have already begun. In May they’ll break ground on a children’s hospital medical office building for outpatient services adjacent to the current structure.

And a little further down the road?

“Really fleshing out the expansion of this particular facility. We built it with the intention of expansion. We’re at the point of really putting those plans together and what does it really look like for the facility.”

Expanding to continue to insure no child goes without care and a home for healing.