How community came together to help fund Dayton Children’s new tower

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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See the inside of Dayton Children's new patient tower before the Grand Opening

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The new Dayton Children’s Hospital might make visitors question if they are in the right building.

“You might think you are walking into a children’s museum,” Jessica Saunders, the director of the Center for Child Health and Wellness at Children’s, said. “(We thought about) what’s going to help children heal and what is going to give parents the respite that they need.”

She said kids need play to heal, and Children's new $168 million, 8-story tower is filled of colorful, imaginative spaces. Several, like the atrium, give nods to Dayton's aviation heritage in whimsical ways.

The public can tour the new tower 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 11.

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Preschool Promise, The Ronald McDonald House, A Special Wish Foundation, Dayton Metro Library, The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery and CARE House are among the hospital’s partners that will offer games and other activities as part of the open house at the hospital located at 1 Childrens Plaza in Dayton.

K99.1FM — which like this news organization is a member of Cox Media Group Ohio — will have a live remote from the open house.

“This is going to show the community not only how Dayton Children’s has transformed care, but will be a point of pride for the community,” Saunders said. “We are really proud to be in Dayton and we want to remain in Dayton.”

COMMUNITY SUPPORT 

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Artwork of "flying things" is found throughout Dayton Children's in keeping with the City's heritage. Dayton Children's is celebrating the completion of its $168 million new patient tower and campus renovation which started in 2014. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Artwork of "flying things" is found throughout Dayton Children's in keeping with the City's heritage.   Dayton Children's is celebrating the completion of its $168 million new patient tower and campus renovation which started in 2014.   TY GREENLEES / STAFF

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Artwork of "flying things" is found throughout Dayton Children's in keeping with the City's heritage. Dayton Children's is celebrating the completion of its $168 million new patient tower and campus renovation which started in 2014. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Stacy Porter, a Children’s spokeswoman, said the new tower, a part of the long-term campus facilities plan, is in many ways the result of a public effort.

“The community has always been so supportive of the hospital,” Porter added. “They realize that they want this here for their kids and they get behind it.”

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The hospital used its own funds, issued bonds and had a successful capital campaign for the project, she said.

The Reaching New Heights campaign aimed to raise $25 million in local support, but instead generated $27 millions.

That included a $300,000 donation from the White family and White-Allen Automotive Group.

Saunders said hospital staffers themselves kicked in $1 million for the project.

“It great to have the dollar amount, but it also shows the engagement and the pride the staff have in Dayton Children’s,” she said.

50 YEARS IN DAYTON 

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Dayton Children’s Hospital will hold a public open house for its new tower.

Dayton Children’s Hospital will hold a public open house for its new tower.

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Dayton Children’s Hospital will hold a public open house for its new tower.

The open house will be one of the few times the general public will be able to see the hospital changes, Saunders said. Access to the hospital is typical limited because it is a children’s hospital. Saunders said it will be worth it.

“It is not just the little hospital on Valley Street,” she said. “It is something the community is going to be so proud of.”

>> MORE: Exclusive look into the new Dayton Children’s Hospital patient tower

She and Porter noted how valuable children's hospitals are when it comes to draw businesses and their employees.

Children's is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

The late Elsie Mead formed the Children’s Hospital Society in 1957 and started raising money for the construction of a children’s hospital. The four-story Barney Children’s Medical Center at 1735 Chapel Street was opened in 1967.

Children’s, one of about 50 freestanding children’s hospitals nationwide, was build upon piece by piece over time.

The tower will allow medical professionals to work together more fluidly, officials say. It raised the hospital’s number of licensed beds from 155 to 171 by adding 16 new beds.

>> MORE: See what’s inside of Dayton Children’s new patient tower

TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS

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Dayton Children’s Hospital will hold a public open house for its new tower.

Dayton Children’s Hospital will hold a public open house for its new tower.

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Dayton Children’s Hospital will hold a public open house for its new tower.

Whimsy was a critical part of the design, Saunders said, but so was function and accessibility. Officials say the tower accommodates the technology patients need.

Its 15-foot ceilings were constructed to support hands-free communication systems and wireless technology.

The new nurse-call systems and monitoring systems help nurses to know when children need quick attention.

DESIGNED FOR CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES

Patient and family experience was a main consideration for the design of the 260,000-square-feet structure between Ohio 4 and Valley Street.

“Many of the details are family-focused,” Saunders said. “We know that when your child is sick, your life is upside down.”

She and Porter pointed to the fact that layout of the pediatric intensive care unit was designed seven times to improve the experience for patients and families. Things seemingly as small as the distance between toilets and sinks were considered.

The tower includes a rooftop garden with a giant xylophone, play areas for patients, special play areas for children fighting cancer and a giant mosaic mural designed by artist Cynthia Fisher.

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Mosaic artist Cynthia Fisher created large murals on the rooftop play areas with designs by patients and supporters of the hospital. Dayton Children’s is celebrating the completion of its $168 million new patient tower and campus renovation which started in 2014. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Mosaic artist Cynthia Fisher created large murals on the rooftop play areas with designs by patients and supporters of the hospital. Dayton Children’s is celebrating the completion of its $168 million new patient tower and campus renovation which started in 2014. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Combined ShapeCaption
Mosaic artist Cynthia Fisher created large murals on the rooftop play areas with designs by patients and supporters of the hospital. Dayton Children’s is celebrating the completion of its $168 million new patient tower and campus renovation which started in 2014. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Porter said the new gift shop has been described as “not your mother’s gift shop.”

She and Saunders say children have not been able to pass up a chance to play in the Dragon Flyer, an interactive mash-up of The Wright B. Flyer and dragonflies found at Huffman Prairie Flying Field where where the Wright Brothers worked.

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Where the old hospital had numbered floors, the new tower floors are named for things that fly in recognized Dayton’s aviation history, Saunders said. They include hummingbird floor and a flyer floor.


New Dayton Children’s Hospital Tower

By the numbers

$168 million: Hospital's investment in the tower

$120 million: Cost of construction

$101.6 million: Investment in local businesses, contractors, artists, others to build the tower

260,000: Additional square feet of space added to the hospital by the tower

About 2,500: Employees of Dayton Children's, about 400 more than when the tower's construction started in August 2014

1,130: Workers who helped build the tower

256: Miles of electrical wire, about the distance from Dayton to Pittsburgh.

205: Feet, the height of the overhead crane used in construction

171: The number of beds the hospital will have when the tower is complete

8: Stories, the tower's height is about 151 feet, as tall as the Statue of Liberty

Source: Dayton Children’s

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