Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thousands flock to open house for new children's and women's hospitals

After years of visiting C.S. Mott Children's Hospital as a parent, Lisa Leonard couldn't have been more excited to tour the new facility Sunday.

"This is like a dream," said Leonard of Chelsea. Her twin daughters, Mikaila and Emma, 6, were born at Mott in 2004.

  Audrey Pratt, a member of U-M's water polo team, paints a colorful souvenir on the cheek of Alayna Tuttle of Wyoming, Mich., during Sunday's open house for the new C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital. (Photos by Steve Kuzma)

Leonard was one of an estimated 20,000 visitors to the new Mott Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital Sunday.

The event drew crowds of people with ties to the hospital, community members and those curious about the new facility that has been 10 years in the making, five of those under construction.

Leonard, who is a member of a parent committee that gave input about the new hospitals, felt a special connection to the new building.

"The girls were involved in taste testing. I tested chairs for the waiting rooms, and I gave my opinions on logistical things — about my experience here as a parent," she said. "Not a lot of families get excited about being admitted to the hospital, but we are!"

The smile on Cameron Zoll of Fenton says it all as he shows off his hula-hoop skills. The open house had many such activities for children and families.  

The new $754 million, 1.1 million square foot facility is now complete and patients will be moved Dec. 4 to the new facility, which includes a women's birthing floor — the Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital.

Visitors were able to tour the 12-story inpatient tower, which features a dedicated pediatric emergency department, 348 private rooms, including 50 private maternity rooms and 46 private NICU rooms, 16 operating rooms and two interventional radiology rooms.

The open house featured many activities for children and families, including a scavenger hunt and a giant game of "Operation." Families could visit with Therapaws dogs, Ronald McDonald or witness an impromptu dance that was part of a flash mob in the earlier part of the day.

Stephanie Christensen said she was excited to see the birth rooms. Both her children were born at Mott — Lina, 3 and Chiara, 7 months.

"Lina made a beeline towards the fish tank," said her dad, Robert Christensen, about their visit to the new Emergency Department. "She's really excited to see everything." Robert Christensen is a pediatric anesthesiologist who trained at U-M and has worked at Mott for three years.

  An estimated 20,000 people visited the new hospitals during the daylong open house.

"Everything's so much bigger," he said. "I'm used to (operating rooms) that are like closets. Our treatment rooms and O.R.s are now so much bigger. We're all really looking forward to being here."

Josh Smith, lead security officer at Mott and an employee of the hospital for the last 15 years, said he has enjoyed the week of opening events.

"I'm extremely excited after all these years that this day is finally here," he said. "It's been great to see the expressions on peoples' faces, from the patients, to the families, to donors who gave so generously to something they really couldn't see until now."

The Friars, an a capella singing group, entertained the crowds.  

Scott Newport, whose son Evan was a Mott patient before he passed away in 2009, has continued to be an active part of the Mott community through the years.

Newport, his son Noah, and wife, Nancy, toured the new hospitals and Scott took part in a dancing flash mob early Sunday morning.

"My son Noah says he wished Evan had been here to see this … the butterflies, the colors, the flow, the openness, even the floors are beautiful," said Newport. "We have a lot of memories that are connected to Mott, all the doctors. Now they have a place as wonderful as these relationships."