Cathie ReaI’m literally counting the days until our pediatric and cardiac intensive care units (PICU and CCU) move to their new spaces in Building Hope. I write the number on a whiteboard outside my office every day. With less than two months to go, there’s a palpable sense of anticipation about working in the new units. Once we settle in, I’m sure we’ll discover it’s been worth the wait.

We’re excited for many reasons, but most of all because the move expands our capacity. Families from throughout the region count on us to provide lifesaving care for their children, but we don’t always have room.  When that happens, we have to cancel surgeries, delay admissions or send children to other hospitals as far away as Portland. That’s unacceptable.

Our existing PICU and CCU have a combined total of 27 beds. They’ll grow to a combined total of 32 beds in Building Hope – 16 each – plus five overflow beds in the old space for a total of 37. With these additional rooms we’ll be able to meet the needs of families whenever they need us. Although our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)  isn’t moving, we’ll begin remodeling the unit later this year to match many of the improvements found in Building Hope.

Crossing the skybridge into Building Hope is a wonderful feeling. It’s so bright! With windows on both sides and at either end of Building Hope’s two wings, natural light fills virtually every corner, creating an inspiring healing environment for patients, families and staff.

Some children must share rooms in our current spaces, but every child will have their own room in Building Hope, providing greater privacy and improving infection control. The new rooms include a parent zone with a sleeper sofa and recliner chair so parents can spend the night with their child. A family lounge will provide a place for families to prepare food, log on to computers and relax outside their child’s room.

Our units care for many transplant patients and other children with weakened immune systems. Anyone entering their room must don a mask and gown. There are supplies built in outside each room to enable using these isolation items.  Every new room includes a pair of pass-through cabinets where medications and supplies can be delivered and stored without anyone entering the room. In addition, nurse’s aides will track down anything our nurses might need to care for their patients so they can spend more time at the bedside and less time in hallways.

Those are just some of the reasons we look forward to caring for patients and families in Building Hope. To all of the families, staff and everyone else who helped plan and design the new PICU and CICU, thank you!