AUSTIN, Texas - (May 2, 2013) - Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas' next chapter begins with the opening of its new bed tower - the W.H. and Elaine McCarty South Tower. This expansion increases the hospital's capacity and brings additional medical innovations to children in Central Texas.
Featuring 72 beds, the region's first and only dedicated in-patient acute care pediatric rehabilitation unit, a state-of-the-art epilepsy monitoring unit and many family-centric features, the new bed tower at Dell Children's means the hospital can serve more Central Texas children with more varied conditions here in Austin, eliminating some inconvenient and cost-prohibitive travel.
"In 2007, Dell Children's filled a crucial need as the region's only dedicated, freestanding pediatric facility," said Sister Teresa George, DC, president and chief operating officer of Dell Children's. "Having reached capacity ahead of schedule, the beds in the new tower will enable us to continue serving Central Texas kids while adding innovations that mean fewer families must travel out of the area to find care for their children."
One such innovation is a comprehensive in-patient acute care pediatric rehabilitation center in the new bed tower. As the only acute-care, in-patient rehabilitation facility for children in Central Texas, toddlers through teens can now remain close to home following care for injuries and illnesses that necessitate intensive rehabilitative care.
"It's very disruptive for kids' and their families to travel out of town for in-patient rehabilitation," said Dr. Maureen Nelson, medical director of Dell Children's Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. "We've put together many of the resources a child needs to continue their road to maximal function - physically, intellectually and emotionally".
Another innovation is the expanded and enhanced Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU). The eight-bed unit, which has the capacity to increase to 12 beds, allows specialists to monitor patients' brain activity and physical condition around the clock. The patient rooms are equipped with specialized video cameras and equipment such as strobe lights that can help identify specific types of seizures as a part of the diagnostic and monitoring process.
Dr. Dave F. Clarke, MBBS, ABPN, ABCN, director of Dell Children's Comprehensive Epilepsy Program, said, "We've been able to help epilepsy patients in Central Texas and from all over the world. Now, with more room and more advanced equipment, we'll be able to help an even greater number of children. It's estimated that three percent of the population has epilepsy, so that means there are thousands of children in Central Texas that could benefit from these services."
The new facility features a dedicated classroom for students requiring longer stays so that their return to school is successful.
The new bed tower continues Dell Children's commitment to treating the unique needs of children in unique ways through family-centric features. Examples include community rooms for specific age groups and a family business center that helps parents stay connected while caring for their children.
"At Dell Children's we understand that children of all ages have different developmental needs when it comes to play and activities," said Kimberlee Korte, director of Child Life. "In the new bed tower, we have age-specific community rooms, such as a room designed for toddlers and a 'teen room' that feels like a place a 13-year-old wants to hang out with friends."
Continuing a Dell Children's tradition, art is being used to promote healing, in patient rooms, hallways and on the grounds.
Along with the new tower, there is a sensory garden with native flowers and plants that stimulate all five senses; a vegetable garden that serves as an educational resource and relaxing environment; and a mosaic wall celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Woody Pet Therapy Program. In addition, the new tower features 250 pieces of art, most created by Central Texas artists.
"Families are under significant stress during a child's hospitalization, so anything that can be done to alleviate that stress promotes healing," added Korte.
Finally, Dell Children's built on its commitment to environmental stewardship with this expansion. The south tower of the world's first LEED Platinum Certified hospital is on track to achieve Platinum certification under the U.S. Green Building Council's new "LEED for Healthcare" Rating System.
"Creating an environmentally responsible facility is not only the right thing to do, it creates a healthier healing environment for patients," explained, Michele Van Hyfte, manager of environmental stewardship for Seton Healthcare Family. "Seton's commitment to the environment is stronger than ever and we will continue to make Dell Children's one of the greenest hospitals in the world."