Update at Shands nears completion
Published: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 1:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 1:26 p.m.
The red brick facade of UF Health Shands Children's Hospital is now covered by an array of blue, purple, red and yellow panels.
Outside the bottom floors, crews continue to work on a glass pavilion that will be the hospital's new entranceway. Inside, the new lobby area is still draped in white construction cloth and tarps.
When work finishes in early September, the covers will come off, unveiling a brightly colored floor with intricate patterns in blue, purple and pink that lead from the entrance into the children's hospital. Glass panels, nature-themed art and Interactive video screens will span the walls.
After decades of sharing areas with the rest of the hospital, this nearly finished, $11 million construction and renovation project will give the children's hospital its own stand-alone entrance, lobby, reception desk and elevators. The colorful building exterior also is intended to give the pediatric hospital a separate, more welcoming, child-friendly identity, said Brad Pollitt, the vice president for Facilities Development at UF Health Shands.
"There's a statement to the community that there is a children's hospital here, and it creates this whole entry pathway," Pollitt said of the ongoing work to the hospital facade and entrance.
The separate entrance will mean that the young patients and their parents and siblings no longer will have to go through the main, adult hospital entrance. That separate entrance and the brightly colored nature-themed lobby are intended to make it less stressful for the families and children coming to the hospital for care, Pollitt said.
It is a strategy that Shands has used multiple times before. The renovated pediatric emergency room is filled with vibrant images of dolphins and fish. The sky and treetops decorate the pediatric intensive care unit. The neonatal intensive care unit is painted in a forest theme.
The new entrance, lobby and redesigned facade are part of a plan to consolidate services into a single, comprehensive-care children's hospital, said Dr. David Guzick, senior vice president for Health Affairs at UF Health.
Guzick said the hospital's 2010 strategic plan launched an effort to bring together services that developed in a "patchwork" or "checkerboard" pattern over the decades.
To date, the projects built to see through that plan have had combined costs of about $135 million.
There is more to come, Guzick said. Down the road, plans include a renovation and expansion of the neonatal intensive care unit and renovation of the hospital's patient rooms. He said the projected costs for the future neonatal ICU project are in the $15 million to $20 million range.
Christopher Curry is a Gainesville Sun staff writer.
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