DMC pediatrics tower to have large private rooms

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

Detroit — Five-year-old Madison Brewster of Fraser was full of smiles, hugs and giggles at DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan Tuesday, despite having endured three chemotherapy treatments the previous day.

Her entire family — parents Wendy and William Brewster, 10-year-old brother Cameron and a coterie of grandparents — turned out to help raise the first 1.6-ton beam of a six-story pediatrics tower that officials say will place the Detroit Medical Center among the nation’s foremost institutions for treating seriously ill children.

Located in the heart of Detroit — ranked as the nation’s deadliest city for children because of high rates of preterm birth, infant mortality and homicide — the tower will include expanded pediatric and neonatal intensive care units. It also will have a ground-level pediatric emergency department with 48 exam rooms and four trauma bays, as well as expanded surgical facilities for transplants, neurosurgery and other complex procedures.

“It really will give us capabilities comparable to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Boston Children’s Hospital” and other world-class pediatric hospitals, said Detroit Medical Center CEO Joseph Mullany.

The Brewsters — who have spent countless hours at the hospital where Maddy is receiving treatment for leukemia — look forward to family-friendly features like private patient rooms that will be double the current size.

“On a family level, you need privacy, and now you have to share rooms,” said William Brewster, a Fraser police officer. “The nurses are there for her on a medical level, but we have to be (with Maddy) for emotional and spiritual support.”

Children’s Hospital of Michigan CEO Larry Gold said the tower, targeted for completion in early 2017, dovetails with a new Children’s Hospital of Michigan Specialty Center in Troy, scheduled to open Feb. 1.

The three-story, 63,000-square-foot facility in the Oakland County community will include a ground-floor emergency department, more than a dozen specialty clinics and an outpatient surgery department.

The Children’s Hospital tower in Detroit was designed using “lean manufacturing” principles pioneered by Toyota Motor Corp. Architects with Boston-based Shepley Bulfinch met with parents, children, doctors, nurses and other clinicians to brainstorm ways to reconfigure the hospital to reduce the amount of time families spend waiting around or in transit.

“Everything we do in the construction of this hospital will be totally focused on the child and the family,” Gold said, noting that entire floors were “mocked up” in an abandoned Detroit ice rink so families and clinicians could test the design.

“We improved the process by moving (cardboard) walls when they weren’t quite perfect yet,” Gold said of the test runs.

The structure will include large private rooms for patients, big enough to accommodate doctors, nurses and therapists as well as large imaging equipment and other technology. Most rooms will be twice as large as the DMC’s current pediatric rooms. The objective is to bring the services to the child, rather than the child to the services, Gold said.

The entire care team — from doctors and nurses to respiratory therapists and other clinicians — will be able to interview the family at the same time in the child’s room, so parents won’t have to repeat the same lengthy patient history again and again, Gold added.

“In the olden days that patient would go to a room for an EKG, then another room for the echocardiogram,” Gold said. “We’re going to have all of those tests happen at the same time (in the child’s room).

“For the children and families and staff we’re cutting out the length of a football field in steps every day.”

The new 248,800-square-foot structure will house the latest in emergency, surgical, critical care and radiology services, Gold added. A new family-friendly main entrance and lobby will feature dramatic two-story ceilings, an 8,842 square-foot curved wall made of rainbow colored glass, and other elements meant to delight kids and take their minds off the often difficult experience of being in the hospital.

“This process will ensure we create the best possible experience for everyone who touches the patient in this new facility,” Gold said.

DMC head Mullany said the project underscores a commitment to Detroit by Tenet Health, the DMC’s for-profit owner.

The DMC has been a for-profit hospital since 2011, when it was purchased by the Vanguard Health Systems hospital chain in Nashville, Tennessee. Vanguard promised to invest $500 million in new construction at DMC facilities, and Tenet honored the commitment when the 80-hospital Texas-based chain purchased the DMC in 2013.

Other investments include the new Heart Hospital that opened last summer — the eighth hospital in the DMC system, and the sixth at the DMC’s 60-acre downtown Detroit campus. The other facilities are Harper University Hospital, Hutzel Women’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan and Detroit Receiving.

“This really is our continued commitment to the downtown area,” Mullany said, “to the city of Detroit.”