Staff, Public Get UI Children's Hospital Sneak Peek

By Diane Heldt, Reporter

IOWA CITY, Iowa - A large notepad at the entrance of a University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics conference room Thursday gave hospital staff a place to share their thoughts on the designs they were seeing for the new UI Children's Hospital.

"Love the colors!" one commenter wrote. "Love the green outdoor spaces," chimed in another.

It was the first major sneak peek of the Children's Hospital plans in nearly a year for hospital staff, and now that the design stage is mostly complete, they got a good idea of how the new facility will look when it opens in 2016.

The public and hospital patients can see the same renderings, interactive displays and room designs Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., in a public sneak peek, set up in the first floor lobby of the John Pappajohn Pavilion.

"We're really trying to alert and inform folks about the experiences that they've helped create by providing us with feedback," Children's Hospital Executive Director Scott Turner said. "We think we've been able to capture all the requirements and all the amenities that people have been seeking."

The design process is about 95 percent complete, Turner said, so much of what staff saw Thursday and the public will see today is what they will see when the $292 million Children's Hospital opens. But there will still be some minor tweaks and little details yet to be worked out as more feedback is gathered, he said.

Display panels show the concepts for color schemes, floor tiles, carpet and other furnishings. It's "evidence-based" design, looking at which color schemes and which types of lighting, for example, have the best impact on patients, said George Mejias, director of capital management for the hospital.

Hospital planners want to use colors and image icons as part of the way to find each floor, so a child would know their room is in the area that is yellow with the bicycle icon, for example. Visitors to the open house can vote using a piece of candy on their favorite icons to be used for this purpose.

Children's Hospital patients, families and staff have informed the design process all the way through, Mejias said. More than 500 people have been involved on various committees as the hospital was planned.

"It's very valuable, having the families and the community coming in, giving us advice," Mejias said.

It's exciting for hospital staff to see the designs as construction on the hospital nears, said Jody Kurtt, associate director in the department of nursing.

"It's an opportunity for everybody to get a peek, from the outside vision to the inside rooms and some of the finishings," she said. "Staff are really excited."

A time lapse video at the open house shows the site work so far and the expected future progress.

Parking ramp no. 2 was removed in recent months, and excavation work on the site for the Children's Hospital tower and the new 650-space underground parking garage now will take about eight or nine months, officials said. Construction work on the hospital structure should start next fall or winter.

"You'll definitely know it's a building by this time next year," Mejias said.
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