Top benefits of a children’s hospital, part 5

Your child’s bedroom probably doesn’t contain the same decorations as your master bedroom. It likely has brighter colors and fun toys. In the same way, a children’s hospital is designed specifically with kids in mind.

In our ongoing series from the past few weeks, we’ve talked about the unique benefits of children’s hospitals, including Children’s Hospital at Erlanger. In prior blogs, we’ve focused on specialty-trained providers, the importance of appropriately sized equipment, the role of child life specialists and community programs that promote healthy living.

Today, we’ll finish up the series by talking about the hospital’s design.

Benefit No.5: A kid-friendly environment

When visiting the hospital, children are often facing the unknown. They’re scared and uncertain. A sterile hospital environment with neutral colors and few decorations isn’t conducive to calming those fears and promoting healing. That’s why children’s hospitals typically look entirely different than a standard hospital.

“The environment in a children’s hospital is essential,” said Cynthia Rhodes, R.N., M.S.N., chief nursing officer at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger. “You want to keep the environment as close to normalcy as possible. You don’t want the surroundings to be drab and boring. You need color and space for interactive play.”

A primary need for color and light

The design of a children’s hospital typically emphasizes color and light.

“I’ve read articles that say regular hospitals should mimic children’s hospitals in this regard,” Rhodes said. “You want lots of good, bright colors, which provide a sense of positivity, and lots of natural light. All that energy helps in healing. When you have an environment that’s more fun, even the staff has more energy.”

Beyond the room’s brightness, you want to provide an environment that encourages continual learning and development, along with healing.

“The environment needs to be interactive and exciting to encourage families to be there and participate,” Rhodes said. “As we build the new hospital, we’re keeping all the best practices in mind. We treat the full span of ages, so we want to make the environment welcoming to everyone from newborns to young adults.”

Putting best practices into action

Children’s Hospital at Erlanger is undergoing a complete reconstruction that will allow the hospital to expand the offerings it currently provides to the community. The first phase of construction, the Children’s Hospital Outpatient Center, is scheduled for completion in 2017, and will be followed by work on a new Children’s Hospital Inpatient Building, expanded Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and a Women’s Hospital. The new hospital is designed around best practices for a children’s hospital environment.

“The Outpatient Center will feature multiple discovery zones,” Rhodes said. “We’ve built in interactive play areas based on a fire truck and a steam engine, among other things. There’s a wall that talks about Erlanger’s connection with the railroad industry, as well as one that provides information about TC Thompson and his commitment to children’s health. We’re letting people know how all this came alive for the community.

“In those zones, kids can learn not just about what’s going on health-wise but also other topics. We want to expose kids to learning, and keep them entertained and positive.”

Children’s Hospital at Erlanger is the region’s only comprehensive regional pediatric center, and we’re reimaging our hospital to better meet your family’s needs! Interested in giving to the cause? Learn how you can help.