IOWA CITY — Faucets in patient room sinks are angled to prevent splashing and germ spread, keeping infection rates down. Floors are made of a rubber material, reducing noise and providing some cushion.
Neonatal intensive-care rooms include refrigerators for breast milk and accommodations for two parents to sleep. Even drainage systems in the bathrooms were designed with kids in mind — floors are slopped to avoid accidental flooding.
The new $360 million, 14-floor University of Iowa Children’s Hospital is on track for completion in August 2016 — with its first patients expected in December 2016 — and nearly every aspect of the facility’s creation has been tested, considered, or approved by kids like and including those it will serve.
“This place was especially designed for them,” Scott Turner, executive director of the UI Children’s Hospital, said Thursday during a tour of the 507,000 square-foot facility.
Construction of the hospital began in fall 2012 and hasn’t been totally seamless — managers have had to scramble to find enough skilled workers for health care-specific portions of the project and administrators recently went to the Board of Regents to ask for $68 million more than expected.
But, with the project coming together and mock-up rooms now available for view, officials say the state-of-the-art facility not only will provide a safe, fun, and welcoming space for kids and their families, but will equip physicians to continue providing and enterprising world-class care.
“It’s a tool that is going to transform what we do,” Turner said.
Instead of typical recovery spaces separated by curtains, for example, the new hospital will provide private recovery rooms expected to slash recovery times. Patients will be transported on elevators not shared with staff moving goods and materials — unlike in the main hospital.
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The new facility will include infrastructure designed to care for patients with infectious diseases — like the Ebola virus — to ensure safety for the children, visitors, and staff. Seven isolation rooms and four protective environment rooms have been developed with modifications to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.
The 11th floor Pediatric Cancer Center — funded by donations from UI Dance Marathon — will include a specialized radiation protective room with lead shielding to treat patients needing radioactive therapy. And the building’s windows are eight layers thick and capable of withstanding projectiles and debris at tornado-force speeds.
Other amenities taking shape in the hospital include a children’s theater, play space, exercise room, healing garden, mediation room, garden, playground, dining facility and a “press box” that provides a full-field view of Kinnick Stadium — where the Hawkeyes play home football games.
The hospital’s 12th-floor, where the press box is located, is the tallest inhabitable space in Johnson County at 164 feet, said Jason Miller, project manager for the Children’s Hospital. And they couldn’t go any higher if they wanted to due to airport regulations, he said.
Faculty and administrators have been recruiting additional physicians to the new facility for years, and Turner said there are only a few specialties that need to be filled out. Operating the hospital also will require new hires — about 225 — in the form of housekeeping, imaging, pharmacy employees and nurses.
By the numbers:
$360 million project cost
• 14 floors
• 164 feet tall
• 507,000 gross square feet of new construction
• 650 new underground parking spaces
• 7,557 light fixtures
• 5,100 tons of steel
• 12 miles of duct work
• 1,168 doors
• 8,324 outlets