For the kids

. May 17, 2012.

After five years of construction, the $754 million CS Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital will welcome patients and staff to the glimmering towers with the sweeping views of the Nichols Arboretum and Huron River.

As doors for the 1.1 million square foot facility open this month, 500 new employees will bring its total workforce to 6,000 people. The move itself – ten years in the making – took place in a 12-hour period. To celebrate the move, hospital staff and administrators have been posting stories and memories — heartbreaking and inspirational — from families who came to know and depend on Mott as a lifeline.

“For some families, most of the memories of their child’s life surround receiving care in the old Mott,” says Kelly Parent, a family advocate for the hospital. “That is an emotional connection that’s hard for families to say goodbye to.”

Shannan Shaw, known as “Maddie’s Mom” writes that her daughter spent a third of her life at Mott. (www.mottblog.org/705/goodbye-to-the-old-mott-from-maddies-mom/) “It was also my home away from home,” she writes. “Our place to play, feel sick and get better, our place to work, to stress out, die of boredom, our place to cry and our place to have hope beyond reason. This was the place where our future was decided.”

Mott Children’s hospital is consistently ranked as one of the best hospitals in the country, and ranked in all ten pediatric specialties in the U.S. News Media Group’s 2011 edition of “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals.”
The new state of the art facility boasts the most sophisticated care and technology existing today. But in all of its modernity, it will keep the old Mott’s soft touch. Like the recycled artwork of miniature butterflies and 1,400 tiles hand-designed by young patients over 14 years. There’s even a miniature fairy door in keeping with the spirit of Ann Arbor fairy enthusiasts.

The new hospital’s two-story lobby opens into an outdoor garden park and reflection area. Designed with input from families, it offers a very un-hospital atmosphere to recharge or grieve. The “Wall of Courage” on the east wing’s 5th floor features pictures of patients and writings by family members who spent at least 30 days in intensive care at Mott.

“Even though it’s a beautiful facility, it’s the soft touch and kindness of staff that brings light to a family’s dark days,” says a parent, whose daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer when she was eight years old. “That first night, I couldn’t tell you what was on the wall. I was in a place of fear. I needed the kindness and comfort of staff members. But once you get used to your new normal, you start to notice little things like that.”

The two towers will accommodate 348 inpatient rooms, 50 maternity rooms, 48 neonatal intensive care rooms and 20 operating rooms. Each hospitalized child will have a private room, which will enhance comfort and also reduce risk of infection. Sick infants will also have their own rooms.

The 5-year construction process also provided jobs for more than 1,200 workers. About 10 percent of its costs were funded by private donors – including $25 million from Flint-based Charles Stewart Mott Foundation – and other individual donations by athletes, coaches and athletic department executives. Michigan’s football legends inspired the football-themed eighth-floor, which features playroom activities to give kids the near-game experience of being in the Big House.

The cancer treatment floor is named after former Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr, who was a co-chair of the hospitals’ capital campaign along with Athletic Director David Brandon and their wives. Michigan athletics donor and Alro Steel Corp. President Al Glick made a $3 million gift. Former players Woodson, Brian Griese and Steve Hutchinson — members of Carr’s 1997 national championship team — lead an annual event that’s raised more than $7.1 million for Mott since its inception. Woodson personally donated $2 million and serves as a fundraising ambassador for Mott.

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