Updated 06/04/12 – 4:40 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – Patients at Children’s Memorial Hospital helped cut the ribbon Monday on the hospital’s new $855 million home in Streeterville.
The hospital is also getting a new name – ALurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago – as it prepares to move patients from its old site in Lincoln Park to the new 23-story facility at at 225 E. Chicago Av., beginning on Saturday.
WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports Ann Lurie donated $100 million five years ago to help fund construction of the new hospital. During her remarks at Monday’s ribbon cutting, she quoted from an email she received from Kendall Ciesemier, who was on the Kids’ Advisory Board which gave input into the design of the new hospital.
“We had brainstorming sessions about different features that we wanted to include, and they said dream your biggest dream,” she said.
The 19-year-old college student said what she wanted most was an outdoor space at the hospital, and that became the inspiration for the facility’s Crown Sky Garden. That space includes Kevin’s Garden, an area named after former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s late son, Kevin, who was a patient at Children’s Memorial Hospital, and died of spina bifida in 1981.
“I just think it’s really amazing that a children’s hospital would take the time to appreciate really the input of their patients,” Ciesemier said. “When they say it’s a place where kids come first, they actually really mean that, and that’s awesome.”
Ciesemier has been a patient at the hospital since before she was born. She had a rare liver disease and needed two liver transplants when she was 11 years old.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports
Ellen Gordon, 19, started as a patient at the hospital when she was in 4th grade, suffering from an autoimmune disease. Now she’s employed at the hospital as a nursing assistant, while also attending college. She hopes to become a nurse at the new hospital.
“It’s gonna just be such a cool place to work at,” she said. “It reminds me more of an amusement park than a hospital.”
She was also on the Kids’ Advisory Board.
“It’s amazing, it’s perfect. You can see our fingerprints, as part of the Kids’ Advisory board, really on every aspect of the hospital.”
Another patient, 13-year-old Jam Ransom-Marks, needed a stem cell transplant a few years ago to fight her leukemia. She’s cancer free now, and calls the new hospital “incredible.”
“My wonderful nurses and my doctors, they definitely saved my life; but there’s things in this new hospital – like music, and art therapy, and hospital bingo – that gave me back my life by just letting me be a kid. And that’s not something that you can always do in the hospital,” she said.
She said the new hospital will be much nicer for all the patients, as it has single rooms for every patient, and will be able to offer more activities for the kids who are treated there.
CBS 2′s Roseanne Tellez reports shutting down the old hospital in Lincoln Park means the hospital will have to move many fragile patients. In all, approximately 160 patients will be relocated to the new hospital, including 11-month-old Lukas Ebben, who’s spent the last month recovering from colon surgery.
“When had gotten here, he was in septic shock,” his mother Krystle Ebbens said. “His immune system wasn’t fighting anything anymore.”
She said it was a very close call, and Lukas nearly died.
Ebbens, who has been by her son’s bedside every day, is concerned about moving not only Lukas, but all these machines he relies on.
Hospital officials are walking each and every parent through the process.
“My biggest concern about patients is that no one feel scared, anxious, or concerned; parents or the kids,” said child life specialist Rebecca Meyers.
Ebbens said hospital staff has put her at ease.
“They fight over who’s taking him, and who’s receiving him,” she said. “They’re awesome here.”
While his care comes first, Lukas’s mother and grandmother are also excited about some of the amenities in the new hospital, such as a replica cab of a Chicago fire truck.
“We’re going to take him on all the elevators, the fire truck … they have a little train set in one of the rooms,” Ebbens said.
But just like raising children, making them better means eventually saying goodbye to the doctors, nurses and other staffers who help treat the kids. The ultimate goal is for the patients to go home with a healthy smile.
The process of moving the patients on Saturday is expected to take up to 18 hours. Also, starting Saturday, parents who need to take their child to Children’s Memorial for an emergency should no longer go to the Lincoln Park site, but instead should visit the new Streeterville location, at 225 E. Chicago Av.