The Medical University of South Carolina is about two months away from opening its new children’s hospital, with interiors beginning to look less like a construction site and more like a health care facility.
MUSC has been planning the Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion for almost 10 years, said Dr. Patrick Cawley, CEO of MUSC Health and the university’s vice president for health affairs. The hospital is expected to open in October.
“We decided to build this hospital because we needed the space,” Cawley said. “We needed the space 10 years ago, we need the space even more today. I want this to be a place that patients feel comfortable, that families feel comfortable, and it gives them everything they need in a hospital.”
MUSC spent two years meeting with architects, doctors, nurses and families of children who were patients in the existing MUSC Children’s Hospital to shape the new facility’s floor plans and amenities. Construction on the building began in 2016.
“This new building was designed by families, for families,” said Kelly Loyd, a volunteer family adviser. “Their stories enriched the process, and the building was made better for it.”
Loyd said one of the great features is the seventh floor, which includes multipurpose spaces for family meetings and activities, a balcony, a 24-hour cafeteria and a grab-and-go cafe. She said having the ability to get food and get a breath of fresh air with a view of Charleston Harbor will help make sure family members are taking care of themselves when a child is in the hospital.
“When you’re engaged in a really difficult situation with your family member, just being able to have that break and that opportunity to step outside for a moment ... will make a difference for those family members,” she said. “Because when you’re here day after day after day, it can really play with your emotions and with your psychological well-being.”
The seventh floor will also include a large indoor and outdoor play area for children. Each floor of the hospital will have smaller play areas, but the large play area will include swings, a respite area for patients and caregivers and a large outdoor screen for movies.
The new hospital will include a large amount of natural light, especially on the seventh floor and in patients’ rooms, which MUSC spokeswoman Heather Woolwine said is a departure from traditional hospital design.
“Being able to connect to green space and nature in any capacity when you’re not well can be helpful,” she said.
Mark Scheurer, chief of the children’s hospital and women’s services, said the process of figuring out how to design the building and all of its features forced the MUSC team to think about how innovation fits into building design.
“I think this building is a great reflection of the community’s willingness to try new ideas, to redesign what health care can look like, what it can feel like ... and still have it be inviting and warm and thoughtful,” Scheurer said.
Cawley said innovation was key to every part of the new hospital.
“It touches just about everything, from signage to lighting to some of the most cutting-edge rooms for high-tech care,” he said. “Innovation is woven throughout this entire building.”
Brett Seyfried, associate chief information officer for infrastructure, said some of the things that MUSC is doing are made possible because they persuaded vendors who typically compete to work together.
“We’ve taken various types of technologies, tens of vendors, had many open discussions with them, sold them on the idea that this is something that is going to be the future of health care,” Seyfried said. “By integrating these technologies together, it allows our care team members and the families and the patients to seamlessly collaborate with each other.”
The technology includes notifications about who doctors are as soon as they enter the room; the ability for doctors to provide telehealth services to patients; and digital tablets outside each room so doctors can quickly access information about patients.
“I hope that the facility allows the patients, family and the care team members to utilize this technology to the best benefit of themselves,” Seyfried said. “The innovative technology that’s going into the room is really going to change the dynamic of integration and collaboration between the family, the care team and the patient themselves.”
Carolyn Donohue, executive director of nursing for children’s and women’s health, said the amount of technology in the hospital will be a benefit for families, patients and staff.
“It’s going to make it much more easy to be transparent about the care that we’re giving, communication with patients and families, and I think that’s going to transform care on top of the clinical excellence that we already have,” she said.
Donohue said she thinks people will see the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital as “a beacon of hope.” Scheurer said he hopes people look at the new children’s hospital as an example of what’s possible.
“It’s a good example for our local community, and because the hospital’s a reflection of our local community, it’s a good reflection of the state and what we can do in a place like South Carolina,” he said. “That’s maybe a great example for others beyond its borders.”