The Penn State Hershey Children’s Hostpital celebrated its official completion this month with several dedications. On Saturday the brand new 263,000 square-foot facility opened its doors for a public dedication. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the dedication with Penn State Altoona benefiting THON’s Four Diamonds family, the Kratzers. This was the first opportunity for the public to get an inside look at the new hospital which cost nearly $207 million dollars. To many, the hospital is more than just a building — it will serve as home.
Two themes seemed apparent throughout the facility; the child friendly nature of almost everything, and the goal of bringing the outside in. Colors covered every hallway of the five-story structure including all of the rooms which house the 72 beds for patients — a step up from the 55 the old Children’s floor was operating with.
As soon as you take a step into the main lobby you are greeted with a welcome desk, a wall boasting all of the donors who made the hospital possible, and an interactive mural. The first floor also features an out patient unit as well as the Pediatric Cancer Pavilion which was donated using the efforts of THON. Other features of the hospital include a family resource center, a café, several play areas and family lounges, and two outdoor courtyards.
“The new hospital building is magnificent. It is spacious, bright, cheerful, family friendly and fun,” said Jennifer Kratzer, the mother of Collin Kratzer who was diagnosed with Medullablastoma at just 16 months old.
As we walked around on our tour, it was apparent just how child friendly the new building was. Both Collin, now three (four next moth- happy early birthday buddy!) and his big sister Neya, 8, had a blast going through the hospital and interacting with all of the new features. From the elevators that change color as you pass floors to the tiny paws on the chair legs, everything seemed to be designed with kids in mind.
All rooms also feature a private bathroom and include enough space for a nurse, doctor and the families. Futon couches have been installed to enable families to stay overnight. Also included are plenty of outlets to charge electronics that many families use to pass the time. Each room also has a flat screen TV which is able to connect to a live feed that will feature things going on throughout the hospital, enabling even extremely ill children the opportunity to participate in events.
I could go on and on about all of the amazing features that the hospital boasts, but the real benefit will come in January when patients will start to be moved into the hospital.
“It is a place where kids can be kids even though they are sick. A place filled with love and hope,” said Kratzer.