WakeMed already serves lots of kids. When it comes to children, the hospital serves more inpatients, does more surgeries and treats more in their emergency department than any other hospital in the state. It features Wake County's only dedicated emergency room for kids.
This Sunday, WakeMed will celebrate the opening of the county's first dedicated Children's Hospital with an afternoon of activities, tours and performances for the public. The hospital will take over the fourth floor of WakeMed Raleigh Campus' new patient tower. It will allow the hospital to serve even more kids and offer specialities and services it hasn't before.
The $8.7 million project is the first phase of a $20 million project to overhaul services for kids. A second phase, which could be complete in a few years, will offer more services to women with high-risk pregnancies and premature infants.
Dr. Mark Piehl, medical director of the Children's Hospital who also specializes in pediatric intensive care, took time out of his busy week this week to talk to me about the hospital. Here's what he said.
Go Ask Mom: What makes a children's hospital different from what you already offer?
Piehl: We had a nice inpatient unit in the hospital. We really needed a seperate facility dedicated to children. One that is bigger. Because currently, we're often full. We're often at capacity or above. We need to offer care to more kids, especially anticipating the growth. While doing that, we just wanted to make our facility more child and family friendly. We're adding more facilities to make it easeier for kids and families to be here and create a more healing environment. It's a bigger space, nicer.
We're adding more services and specialists. As the region grows, the pediatricians are asking for it, families are asking for it. Increasingly, we can provide more of that care right in town. We recently opened a new diabetes center for children and we just hired our first pediatric surgeon and that is a huge, huge addition. A lot of our vision is that we will continue to bring in more specialists and more serivces for kids here in Raleigh and the region.
GAM: How is the new hospital more family friendly?
Piehl: The first phase is the inpatient unit we'll be opening this week. It's a new pediatric ward and pediatric intensive care unit with playrooms for kids, respite area for families, places for families in every room to have their own bed and shower. It makes nature accessible. We have gardens around the hospital, a lot of trees everywhere. We have water falls, fish, natural colors. It's all very soothing as we walk thorough.
GAM: What makes a children's hospital more attractive to specialists?
Piehl: We have a lot. We have cardiologist, we have radiologist, pediatric anesthesiologist. There's now one gastroenterologist in town, lung specialists. There's a number of folks we hope to add eventually. We just have a lot of patients. There's a lot of need for it here. I think this beautiful facility we're opening demonstrates our commitment for kids and will be attractive to physicians who want to come to an innovative environment.
We've had just generous donor support. Individuals and companies together over the past year have donated $8.7 million even in a difficult economy. It just shows the support in the community for doing this. WakeMed employees donated $1 million. It's just really fun to be a part of this and see how much community support there is.
To find out more about Sunday's grand opening celebration and the new Children's Hospital, click here. The celebration is from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday featuring tours of the new hospital, WakeMed's helicopter, arts and crafts, and more.