IOWA CITY — Years in the making, an expanded and high-tech University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital opened seven of its 14 floors Saturday, including those specifically designed to care for pediatric cancer and cardiac patients.
Hospital crews began moving patients in the morning, posting online about 10 a.m. that its first patient — a 6-year-old from Bettendorf awaiting a heart transplant — was now in his new room on the Level 3 Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit.
By later in the afternoon, UI spokesman Tom Moore said that “the most critical patients have been moved.”
“The process is going very well,” he said. “The staff have done a phenomenal job of preparing and carrying out the moving process.”
Moore said staff had more patients to move before the end of the day, “but we expect to successfully complete the move late this afternoon.”
The hospital did not allow on-site news media coverage of the move, it said, because of patient safety and privacy.
Work on the hospital, one of the largest construction projects in the state, began in 2012. Of the $360 million hospital’s 14 floors, those opening Saturday were:
• Lower Level 2 — imaging and procedure center
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• Lower Level 1 — discharge lobby and main pharmacy
• Level 1 — Gerdin family lobby
• Level 2 — dialysis and infusion center
• Level 3 — pediatric cardiac intensive care unit and pediatric intensive care unit
• Level 6 — the neonatal intensive care unit
• Level 11 — UI Dance Marathon Pediatric Cancer Center.
The remaining levels — including the surgery and surgery support units on levels 4 and 5 and the inpatient floors on levels 9 and 10 — will open at a later date.
“This will allow time to complete device integration and staff training and ensure the remaining areas are ready for patients, families, and employees,” according to a UI news release.
The 507,000-square-foot hospital — plus another 56,250 square feet of renovated existing space on the main campus — was expected to open Dec. 10, with crews planning drills and tabletop exercises to prepare to complete the complex move in a day. In early November, the hospital hosted a three-day open house that welcomed thousands of visitors.
Later, officials announced they would not meet the Dec. 10 date and instead announced plans to open the hospital in January or February.
Earlier this month, The Gazette reported on a contractor dispute involving Modern Piping of Cedar Rapids, which asserts the hospital owes it nearly $8.4 million. The case is headed to the Iowa Supreme Court.
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