Banner Health provided a sneak peek Thursday of Cardon Children's Medical Center, describing it as a "unique and whimsical place" that will greatly expand the current children's hospital on the Banner Desert Medical Center campus in Mesa.
The $356 million expansion is slated to open Nov. 2 and will allow the children's hospital to move from inside Banner Desert to a new, seven-story facility on the campus. The facility will allow Cardon to expand from 145 to 248 beds and will include a new, enlarged pediatric emergency room and units for pediatric rehabilitation, radiology, cancer care, intensive care and neonatal intensive care.
The new facility also includes six operating rooms, and 25 private, child-friendly preoperative and postoperative rooms.
The public will be invited to tour the new hospital from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 4 and Oct. 11. On Nov. 2, the pediatric emergency room will open at 6 a.m., and surgeries will begin soon after.
The first two floors of a second, seven-story tower at Cardon already have been constructed. There is no timeline for when the second tower will be finished.
"If you look at Arizona, there is a serious shortage of beds and new facilities for our little ones in this state, and this hopefully will be viewed as a major effort by Banner ... to assess this particular issue and understanding that we've got to solve it," said Peter Fine, Banner Health president and chief executive. "We've got to solve it with more capacity for our kids to be taken care of in this state."
The planning process for the new hospital involved gaining insight from children, families and health care professionals to design a "unique healing place that will stand for family-centered care at its best," Fine said.
The interior of the hospital is meant to be neither sterile nor institutional looking, Fine said. Instead, it focuses on nature and neighborhoods, themes chosen to create a calming, serene environment for children and families.
"It's a medical center that will give our caregivers the tools they need to provide the best care for our community's children, and quite frankly also to provide it in an environment that is comfortable for children and families alike," he said. "The intention is to have the comforts of home."
Cardon includes 225 pediatric physicians and subspecialists, as well as hundreds of nurses, technologists, aides, therapists and volunteers, said Todd Werner, hospital CEO.
"No one, in particular our children, should have to come into a medical center, but when they need to, this is going to be the place that they want to come," he said.
The lobby emphasizes nature with waterfalls and a park-like area with trees and street lamps. Clouds line the ceilings and nature scenes are painted on the walls.
Patients will not have rooms, but "homes" with doorways that look like those of homes, ranging from brownstone buildings and southern-style facades, to log cabins. Each floor also features children's play areas, kitchens, family lounges, laundry rooms and huge closets from which patients can select toys. Cardon Children's School, a partnership with Mesa Public Schools, Banner and State Farm, will work with patients to stay current in their studies and also transition back to the classroom.
Dr. Jeff Lobas, Cardon Children's Medical Center's chief medical officer, said the size and environment will make a "huge" difference to patients.
"We will be able to render better care because we have a better facility in terms of technology, ease of movement and patient flow," he said. "In a very real way, it centralizes all of the children's care where we're kind of spread out now."
The new hospital has been a magnet for top-quality pediatric subspecialists, Lobas said.
"There certainly is a shortage of pediatric subspecialists in the country right now, and I think we've been able to do a great job of getting specialists who cover the whole gamut of pediatric care," he said. "The programs we're developing are every bit as important as the building, and I think this has certainly been an attraction for people to come and build programs with us."