The white-painted brick and muted blue-and-green color scheme of Wesley’s dated pediatric unit is partially gone. Soon to come: bright, rainbow colors with an emphasis on purple and green, ceilings painted to look like the sky and murals of trees.
In a couple months, Wichita will gain its first hospital dedicated to children.
Renovations for the $28-million project are underway at Wesley Medical Center, 550 N. Hillside.
The project involves mostly aesthetic renovations of existing space on the west part of its hospital campus facing Hillside.
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Wesley hopes to keep more patients from traveling out of town for care by attracting new pediatric services to Wichita.
The two units under renovation are both on the fifth floor of a wing in Wesley Medical Center: the main pediatric unit and the pediatric intensive care unit.
For the most part, the layout of the units will stay the same.
But the pediatric intensive care unit will gain three more beds to accommodate 15 patients and will provide all patients with private rooms.
Previously, only curtains separated most of the beds.
The main pediatric unit will have 31 rooms, the same number as in the current facility.
Even though the renovations won’t expand bed capacity in the main unit, Tripp Owings, chief operating officer at Wesley, said the hospital expects to serve more patients by creating shorter lengths of stay.
“If we can keep the kids out of the hospital and in their home, that’s better for everyone,” he said.
If we can keep the kids out of the hospital and in their home, that’s better for everyone.
Tripp Owings, chief operating officer at Wesley
Each patient room will have a TV and a computer.
Larger patient rooms will have Murphy beds that pull down for family members to spend the night and smaller rooms will have fold-out couches.
The rooms also will have a new bedside touch-screen service for patients. It allows clinicians to share charts, scans, test results and education with patients. And it offers entertainment services for patients: TV, on-demand videos, games, audiobooks, video and voice calls and Internet.
Patient rooms will have a TV, computer and a place for family members to spend the night. The rooms will also have a new bedside touch-screen service for patients to access medical information and entertainment.
Right now, a hallway with microbiology labs separates the two units. Those labs will move to Wesley’s basement to make way for physician offices and meeting space. Owings said the hospital could later convert that area into additional patient rooms.
Hirings bring round-the-clock care
Thus far, Wesley said it and the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita have hired a total of six nurses, six unit assistants, three child-life specialists and 10 pediatricians. Wesley said three other medical providers are in the process of moving to work at the Children’s Hospital.
With those hirings, Wesley added round-the-clock intensivist care. Intensivists are doctors that specialize in treating critically ill patients.
Before, the hospital previously had an intensivist on call, but didn’t have an intensivist in-house at all times.
Wesley also recruited a pediatric hematologist — a doctor who specializes in treating children with blood diseases. The doctor also specializes in pediatric oncology, or cancer.
Owings said he and others at Wesley still hope to recruit a pediatric doctors with respiratory, urinary and genetic specialties.
Thus far, Owings said the renovations are ahead of schedule. The patient rooms for both the main unit and the intensive care unit could open sometime in April or May.
He estimates the lobby and façade could be done sometime this summer and said the lab renovation and move to the basement would be completed last, in the fall.
He hopes to see the entire project finished by early October.
Wesley hopes the entire project is finished by early October.
The pediatric space was originally built in 1979, where the unit has stayed since it opened.
The renovations will include the addition of a first-floor Children’s Hospital lobby facing Hillside, across from McDonald’s.
The new building façade on that side will have a steel gray color scheme with rectangular lines.
Inside, the new Children’s Hospital features bright rainbow colors. A large floor-to-ceiling tree will decorate the play area.
During renovations, pediatric patients moved to the fourth floor and the intensive care children moved to the sixth floor.
Owings said the kid-oriented look and feel should help children heal faster and help with physician recruitment for the hospital.
“When they have a comfortable environment, they heal faster,” Owings said.
He said he also thinks the Children’s Hospital will benefit large employers in Wichita, such as Koch Industries, Spirit and Textron to name a few, which market Wichita to prospective workers.
“All those people are recruiting from all over the world,” he said.
“We hope they can recruit by saying, ‘Look, we have this great Children’s Hospital.’”
He said a city of Wichita’s size should already have a hospital area dedicated to children.
“Since our town is such a family-oriented town, not having that and now being able to give that to the community, I think is a tremendous boost to all of us,” he said.
Since our town is such a family-oriented town, not having that and now being able to give that to the community, I think is a tremendous boost to all of us.
Tripp Owings, chief operating officer at Wesley
Wesley Children’s Foundation
To boost its Children’s Hospital, Wesley started a nonprofit called Wesley Children’s Foundation.
Jill Bosley, executive director of Wesley Children’s Foundation, started in late October and to date, is the only employee of the foundation.
She said the foundation would have two main purposes: to provide financial assistance to families of children in need and to organize programming and events for children while they are in the hospital.
Wesley Children’s Foundation will provide financial assistance to families of children in need and organize programming and events for children in the hospital.
For instance, she said, she hopes to install an outdoor playground at Wesley and bring music and art therapy to the Children’s Hospital.
She said all the money would stay locally for children who are being treated at Wesley, have been treated there, or for people with special health care needs being treated by a pediatric doctor.
Bosley said she’s planning an event for Oct. 22 called Wine, Women and Shoes. She said the fundraising event will feature Napa Valley wine, live auctions, a fashion show and shoe and jewelry vendors.
She said plans call for Wine, Women and Shoes to be the foundation’s signature annual event.
“I think everyone wants to support our local kids, and this is a great avenue for them to do that,” Bosley said.