Central Florida's newest hospital opens its doors officially in a few weeks, but Nemours Children's Hospital was dedicated Thursday in a ceremony.
The 630,000-square-foot, 95-bed hospital sits on a sprawling campus in the heart of the Lake Nona Medical Center, just off the 417 near Orlando International Airport.
Hospital administrators say the facility will welcome children and their families in an atmosphere that will promote normal and healthy lives.
Thursday the building will be dedicated in a 10 a.m. ceremony attended by families instrumental in the hospital's development. Families helped choose furniture and even sat in on staff interviews--helping select doctors and nurses.
The hospital has been designed with great care given to comforting child patients and their parents. Kids heading to surgery can choose a toy from a toy box to take with them, and the hospital makes sure their parent's face is the last face a child sees before going to sleep for surgery and the first thing they see when they wake up.
"Without Nemours, my daughter would not be here today," says Stacie Stafford, whose 8-year-old daughter Audrey was diagnosed with a rare liver condition just a few months after her birth. The Orlando family could not find any doctors Florida who could help their daughter and ended up at a Nemours hospital in Delaware. There, Stafford donated part of her liver to save her daughter.
"We had to travel a thousand miles away. And that put a hardship on us. We left our support system, which is huge when you have a seriously ill child," Stafford said. With the new Nemours hospital in Central Florida however, the Staffords can visit all their doctors under one roof, saving them trouble and expenses.
In addition to the state-of-the-art facility, Nemours includes specialties like the area's only pediatric muscular dystrophy clinic plus the Southeast's only fetal surgeon.
"We are bringing in sub-specialties that are not currently in Orlando, so we will be able to provide children with care that they did not have before," said Dr. Judy Wall, senior director of medical affairs for Nemours. "I think it's just a day of celebration To know that we're bringing something new to the community bringing new faces new expertise."
At the dedication ceremony, patients like 7-year-old Tatum got to check out the hospital and even helped pick out the furniture.
"When we drove up she (Tatum) said 'Mommy it's beautiful,'" said mother Melissa Cempella. "And it gives me goosebumps to know that so many things that I said were implemented in this hospital and it makes her that happy."
The hospital will officially open October 22, but Nemours will host an open house all day Saturday. The public is invited.