It’s clear the moment one steps into the new Wesley Children’s Hospital: These halls were made with a child’s physical and emotional healing in mind.
Brightly colored nature motifs on the walls, blue skies on the ceiling and circular tiles filled with vibrant gels that move when stepped on bring out the child in just about anyone who enters.
The kid-friendly feel is a critical part of Wesley Children’s Hospital’s goal to help make children feel as comfortable as possible so they recover and heal more quickly under the top-notch care the hospital provides.
Meeting a Need
The Wesley brand is synonymous with quality and compassionate care within the Kansas medical community, with Wesley Medical Center in Wichita providing award-winning care for children and adults, many of whom travel from communities throughout Kansas and surrounding states.
“You have families from Wichita who are driving long distances, and you also have some challenges with some of the insurance companies that don’t want folks to go out of state. Having an in-state option is really important, and it’s closer to home.”
— Wesley Medical Center Chief Operating Officer Tripp Owings
The $28 million children’s hospital expansion is a result of a shared vision with the community and providers and culminates this fall with the Wesley Children’s Hospital grand opening.
“Wesley Children’s Hospital will be the only children’s hospital in this region and the first dedicated hospital that has aesthetics in place just for kids,” says Wesley Medical Center Chief Operating Officer Tripp Owings. “It also gives a fantastic platform for continuing to recruit new pediatric-focused physicians to Wichita so that we can treat more kids here at home rather than having them travel farther away.”
In the past, families from the Wichita metro and rural areas around Kansas had to travel to Kansas City or hospitals in Oklahoma for the types of expertise and service that Wesley Children’s Hospital now offers.
“You have families from Wichita who are driving long distances, and you also have some challenges with some of the insurance companies that don’t want folks to go out of state,” Owings says. “Having an in-state option is really important, and it’s closer to home.”
A few of the many physicians and nurses of Wesley Children’s Hospital. From left are Paige Jacob, RN; Stephanie Kuhlmann, DO, Medical Director, Pediatrics; Lindall Smith, MD, Medical Director, PICU; and Krista Cotterill, RN.
That proximity is a positive factor for both patients and families. Wesley Medical Center, for both adult and pediatric care, serves roughly two-thirds of the state — western Kansas, southeast Kansas and even some parts of northwest Kansas.
“We really have a huge geographic area that we serve,” Owings says, adding that many within those areas have family and extended networks in Wichita that could provide support during a medical stay. “Our goal has always been to keep families in their home environment. We can give them more options to do that here.”
Commitment to Care
The comfort and support systems within Wesley Children’s Hospital go hand in hand with a commitment to the highest quality of care. The bright and cheery environment is only the beginning.
“We’ve tried to create a soothing and fun environment for care that will make children as comfortable as possible,” Owings says. “We obviously want the children to be able to go home, and the faster they can heal, the better they can resume their normal lives.”
The existing hospital laboratory was relocated to another floor as part of the refurbishing of the fifth floor that now connects the Wesley Children’s Hospital’s PICU and pediatric unit.
The new Wesley Children’s Hospital was designed to make the facility as comfortable as possible for young patients and visitors. It includes images of trees and a sunny sky, as well as liquid stomp mats on the floor.
The nurses’ station on the pediatric unit has an open design and is close to patient rooms so nurses are just a few steps away from patients.
Features include a play room for younger kids and a teen room with a TV and video games. And then there are the motion-liquid floor tiles, which inspire a spirit of play.
“They’ll make a child out of anybody,” Owings says. “I’ve seen kids age 2 jump on them, and I’ve seen 85-year-old adults jump on them.”
Wesley Children’s Hospital also features a Lincor system on which children can pull up DVR, TV, Skype or the internet on a screen next to their beds. The system also can be utilized by medical staff for showing children and parents X-rays, CT scans or patient education materials.
But Owings says the amenities are just a reflection of the mission.
“A building is just a building, and at the end of the day the building doesn’t care for children and their families — it’s the excellent physicians and nurses and child-life specialists and unit assistants and physical therapists and all the other pediatric-trained caregivers who take care of our patients,” he says.
The promise of upgraded aesthetics and enhanced services have helped Wesley — and Wichita — recruit a number of specialists over the past two years, including a second pediatric orthopedic surgeon, two pediatric surgeons, five pediatric cardiologists, four pediatric hospitalists, three pediatric intensivists, two pediatric endocrinologists, two pediatric nephrologists, two pediatric hematologists/oncologists and a pediatric geneticist.
“They’re building on what was already here,” Owings says. “We already had wonderful pediatric services, and now we’re making them even more robust. We’re really building on the great work that’s been done here over the years to elevate our program even more around pediatrics.”
The children’s hospital rests within the Wesley Medical Center campus but features an independent entrance on Hillside Street, with a brand new lobby, an expanded pediatric ICU and a new total of 31 private pediatric rooms on a dedicated floor.
“Being a hospital within a hospital gives us all the benefits of a children’s hospital in the aesthetics and focus, but it gives us the ability to leverage the resources that are part of a broader hospital,” Owings says.
The children’s hospital has opened section by section throughout the summer months. Owings says the grand opening anticipated in early September will be a cause for celebration — not only by the hospital, but also the growing Wichita community.
“From a broader perspective, I think it’s really important for this region,” he says. “We have such a huge portion of the Wichita economy based on aerospace and engineering, and we want to continue to attract highly talented and skilled workers to this region. I’m hopeful that our existing and potential businesses in Wichita see this as a huge benefit for our community as well.”
For more information about Wesley Medical Center and Wesley Children’s Hospital, please visit wesleymc.com.