If you live anywhere near or around Orange County, California you have probably heard of CHOC Children's Hospital. Named one of the best children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report (2012-2013), CHOC Children's is exclusively dedicated to health and well-being of children through clinical expertise, advocacy, outreach and research that brings advanced treatment to pediatric patients.
I was born and raised in Orange County. In fact, Luke was born at the same hospital I was - St. Joseph's Hospital, which is literally across the street from CHOC. And being a child diagnosed with asthma at the age of 4, I personally have stayed overnight at CHOC Children's a few times growing up. I can remember my parents having nothing but amazing things to say about the hospital and that tradition continues today.
Last week, I was fortunate enough to get a "behind the scenes" tour of their brand new patient care tower, The Bill Holmes Tower, that is set to open this spring. And now no longer a patient, but a mother, I can honestly say I was completely blown away by the new facility.
The seven-story building includes the region's only dedicated pediatric emergency department, surgical suites, laboratory, pathology, and imaging services. The building includes leading design and safety principles, helping to make CHOC one of the most advanced and safest hospitals in the world.
From the minute I entered the lobby, I had to remind myself that I was in a hospital. Bright, cheery colors were everywhere and there was nothing "clinical" about the setting. Each floor of the new patient tower is individually designed based on the earth and it's environment. Starting with "fossils" in the basement all the way up to the "solar system" on the 7th floor. The attention to detail was remarkable.
We started the tour in the radiology department. All staff are specially trained to treat pediatric patients. This includes Child Life Specialists to help ease children's anxiety about having a procedure done. The department included brand new MRI and CAT scan machines. And each patient is given "cinevision" goggles and headphones to allow patients to listen and watch movies while having their scans. I think they need those for adults!
I have yet to have an MRI done but just the thought of one gives me mass anxiety. I couldn't imagine trying to get Luke to sit still for even a 10 minute test!
What I was most impressed with was the Julia and George Argyros Emergency Department. I'm no stranger to the ED and I can't help but cringe when I think about going. There is no "quick trip" to the ED. Thankfully, Luke has never had to go (yet) but if and when he does I will feel confident bringing him here.
The 31 room emergency department will have a registered nurse at the front desk 24 hours a day to quickly triage patients, along with 3 triage rooms to treat and discharge those patients not needing acute care.
Several of the rooms in the ED are equipped with comfy chair/beds that allow parents to rest if their child is waiting to be admitted for an overnight stay at the hospital. It's touches like these that truly make CHOC unique.
All the rooms in the new tower are "same-handed" rooms meaning each room is identical to the next - helping to minimize the potential for human error because health care professionals will be already oriented to the environment.
I couldn't help but realize how big the patient rooms were! My college dorm was half the size and slept at least 3 people! Each room has it's own private bathroom and pull out couch for family members to stay overnight. The floors are filled with large windows that flood the windows and halls with natural light, once again removing the clinical feel.
And now here's the fun part. On our tour we suited up in sterile "bunny" suits and were able to get a behind the scenes look at one of the 2 cardiac catheterization labs and one of the 7 new operating suites. I have been in an OR several times but always as the patient. It was neat to actually see the room standing up!
The 2nd floor of the hospital is dedicated entirely to patient and family amenities. Pre-teen and teen game rooms, gift shop, coffee kiosk, cafe, and CHOC's very own radio station outfit the floor. Not to mention the 3,000 square foot outdoor play space.
The highlight of the 2nd floor is Disney's "Aquatorium." No we aren't at Disneyland and yes, we are still in the hospital. Representing the ocean layer of the multi-layered look at the Earth, Walt Disney Imagineering worked to bring the world of the Disney Pixar film Finding Nemo to life, as only Disney knows how.
"Turtle Talk with Crush" gives guests a chance to engage in live, unrehearsed conversations with Crush, the animated sea turtle from Disney's Finding Nemo. The experience is a real-time, interactive, live, impromptu, animated show where Crush chats with guests, plays games, jokes, and even teaches kids how to "talk turtle." The show will run a couple times during the day. When it isn't running, guests will be able to see special media (both audio and video) created especially for the "Aquatorium."
Services at the new Bill Holmes tower will begin rolling out in phases, beginning in early February 2013 through late March 2013.
Disclosure: I was provided with a media tour of the new tower however, all opinions expressed here are my own.