Building Hope patient roomIt’s been one month since Seattle Children’s new cancer, critical and emergency care expansion opened to patients and the inpatient units are already full. The new Emergency Department (ED) on the ground floor of the building has also seen higher-than-normal patient volumes. Patients and staff are giving Building Hope high marks.

“It’s unbelievable to see it as a real building. It’s amazing that it’s so similar to the cardboard mockup we built three years ago,” says Mandy Hansen, Building Hope project manager. “There’s a great sense of pride about all the hard work that went into building a space that really supports our patients and families.”

New inpatient rooms already full

The new critical care and cancer care units in Building Hope filled up almost immediately after the building opened. Twenty patients moved into the new cancer unit on April 21, but volumes quickly grew. At times since the opening, all 48 beds in the unit have been full (up from 33 beds in the previous unit).

Kristie Page, clinical manager for inpatient cancer care, says families are taking advantage of the common spaces and features in the new units. “Families love the amount of natural light, and parents are grateful that they can shower in their child’s room,” she says.

One patient family readmitted to Children’s cancer unit sent a note of appreciation for the private rooms:

WOW!!! There isn’t enough space to say how amazing this new facility is. We have enjoyed getting to know roommates in the past but there always seems to be this unspoken pressure between the two families sharing a room when your kiddos are in pain, crying or having an emergent situation at hand.  It has caused stress and worry in my kiddos hearing other kids struggle. It is soooo nice to be able to navigate our situation with freedom… THANK YOU!!

Building Hope patient movePatients also enjoy Building Hope’s fun features like the colored lights and large, flat-screen TVs. “One of our long-term teen patients invited the nurses to his room for a dance party using the new Get Well Town network,” said Bonnie Fryzlewicz, director of the Cancer Care Unit, which includes a level dedicated to teens and young adults.

Nurses and other staff value the efficiencies of the new building, including the pass-through cabinets for supplies and medications. “The private rooms mean patients don’t need to be moved from room to room to accommodate isolation treatment or to make room for new patients,” says Page. “That’s been a huge win for staff and families.”


New Emergency Department equipped to handle more, sicker patients

Since opening on April 23, the new Emergency Department (ED) has been busier than in past years at this time, and has seen significant surges in patients. Fortunately, the larger, more open space is designed to accommodate more patients and reduce families’ wait times and overall stays in the ED.

“We continue to see more patients with very severe illnesses,” says Tony Woodward, MD, MBA, chief of emergency medicine. “We have to anticipate the worst-case scenarios and be ready with space, staff and expertise.”

In addition to the spacious new environment, families have also noticed the new model of care, which brings the entire care team to the patient shortly after arrival: “I sometimes have to reassure families,” says Russ Migita, MD, associate clinical director of emergency services. “They aren’t used to having two to three doctors see them immediately on arrival and are worried that something is seriously wrong. I tell them that, whenever possible, we try to bring all the providers to the bedside so they don’t have to tell their stories multiple times.”

What comes next?

With Building Hope now open, the strategic planning and facilities teams have shifted their focus to restructuring vacated spaces in the existing building and planning for the future. “We’re looking at the rest of the campus to decide what goes where,” says Todd Johnson, vice president of facilities at Children’s. “The planning process will give us direction through the next five years as we continue to expand and reconfigure our spaces to meet the goals outlined in our strategic plan.”

With each new or reconfigured space, the planning team will use the same process that guided the design of Building Hope, including cardboard mockups and input from staff and patient families.

The first step will be to create more room for inpatients, beginning with an expansion of the Inpatient Psychiatry Unit (IPU) into the space formerly occupied by the Cancer Care Unit. “The IPU is almost always at capacity, and there’s a critical community need for more inpatient psychiatric services for kids and teens,” says Hansen. The expansion will add 11 inpatient beds to the 20 beds currently in the unit.

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) will be remodeled to better support the needs of fragile infants and their families. The remodel will provide more support space, such as quiet rooms and lounges, for families who may spend weeks or months in the NICU. The facilities team will also reconfigure the space to improve the flow of the unit for care teams.

As patient volumes continue to grow, Building Hope’s four levels of “shell space” will also be filled with new inpatient rooms to care for the region’s sickest children. With the opening of Building Hope, Children’s now has 323 licensed beds, with a plan to expand to 600 beds by 2030.

“We are being very intentional as we continue to renovate and expand our inpatient and clinical spaces,” says Johnson. “We are looking at our growth over the next five years and making sure our efforts align with our patients’ needs and the needs of the community.”

Learn more about Building Hope:

For more information on Building Hope or to arrange interviews with Children’s staff, contact the public relations team at 206-987-4500 or