Building a Bigger, Better ER for Kids

HealthDisasters and AccidentsHealthcare ProvidersWGNShedd Aquarium

Emergency care -- it looks like bigger is better when it comes to caring for the tiniest patients.

Mary Otting, EMS Coordinator, Children's Memorial Hospital: "I was just overwhelmed and humbled to see how big the place is."

It's vacuous now -- a giant space employees are practically giddy about.

Kathleen Shanahan, Nursing Director, Children's Memorial Emergency Services: "Our current space is about 9,800 square feet and we're moving into 36,000 square feet."

Four current Children's emergency leaders tour now what will be a bustling emergency department with 45 exam rooms, more patient privacy, an isolation area for contagious patients or psychiatric evaluations.

"We've got three triage rooms, the waiting room and the bridge to Prentice."

The new Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago's Griffin Emergency Care Center is designed to care for kids on a whole new level.

Kathleen Shanahan: "On average we see about 180 kids a day and we've gone up as high as 400 during H1N1."

Unlike the current white walls and small square rooms, this place will flow with fish, thanks to the partnership with the Shedd Aquarium. It's all about reaching new heights with a high speed elevator to the helipad. And a way to speed the ambulances and patients into the ER.

Janis Rusin, Transport Team Director, Children's Memorial Hospital: "Our current ambulance bay is single file. The ambulances come in one direction and exit another. At most you can park two ambulances. This ambulance bay is just absolutely huge compared to what we currently house. It's going to house six ambulances comfortably. The beauty of that is, we will be able to come in and out without waiting, without waiting to offload our patients."

Parents may fear the wait navigating the city to the new location, but, once inside, caregivers say those fears will fade.

Mary Otting: "I think the area they are coming to might be congested and tight, but once they get into the new space, it's going to be much more comfortable, much more at ease."

The new ER will be accepting the first patients in 18 months when the Lurie Children's Hospital opens its doors. After that, hundreds of thousands of people will pass through each year.

For more information on the progress of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, visit

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