Erlanger Cuts The Ribbon On Sparkling New Children's Hospital Kennedy Outpatient Center; McKees Add $1 Million Gift

  • Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Erlanger Health System on Tuesday cut the ribbon on the sparkling new Children's Hospital Kennedy Outpatient Center. The first patients will be treated next week.

There was another large crowd, in addition to Sunday's community open house, to tour the three-story facility that was completed in just a year and a half following groundbreaking.

The new center will house more than 50 pediatric subspecialists, including cardiologists, gastroenterologists, pulmonologists, neurologists and orthopedists, who will serve more than 100,000 patients annually.

Don Mueller, CEO of Children's Hospital, said, "This building is one of a kind in the nation for not only providing more access to pediatric specialists, but also for transforming the way we care for children. Every aspect of the architecture, interior design, activities and patient care areas were created with the help of our patients, staff and community input. The colors, artwork and technology were all made-to-order with children in mind."

The 90,000-square-foot facility includes photography and artwork by local artists, a hang glider suspended from the lobby ceiling, a Giving Tree, a secret garden, Tristin the fire truck and Sally the tow truck.

Each of the colorful treatment rooms is outfitted with its own delightful art piece. There are no doctor offices, but the doctors have small cubicles as most of their time is spent with their young patients.

The imaging area is the latest design in being non obtrusive and safe.

Children can push a button and a toy train on the wall above them begins circling the main lobby.

Another push on the top floor located by two opaque doors makes it spring open and reveal the Secret Garden on the rooftop.

There is also a Choo Choo Cafe headed by Josh Patton that features push button salad ordering.

Nearby is a bust of T.C. Thompson, hospital founder.

Outside is an authentic steam locomative built the same year that Erlanger opened - 1891. Nearby a memorial was built of stone to honor the six Woodmore Elementary children who died in a bus wreck two years ago.

One of the main speakers was CEO Kevin Spiegel, who said soon after he arrived over five years ago he vowed to make the hospital possible.

Grady Williams and Tom Edd Wilson were enlisted to lead a fundraising campaign with a daunting goal. Mr. Wilson died suddenly four days after the groundbreaking. His widow, Barby, and their two daughters were among those in the audience.

The lobby was named for Mr. Williams and Mr. Wilson.

The event was also highlighted by the announcement that Jack and Betty McKee had contributed $1 million toward the center.

Mr. Spiegel said much of the credit must go to Bruce Komiske, who has built children's hospitals around the country and was the genius behind many of the hospital's unique features.

He has made Chattanooga his home and is eyeing along with his friend, Kevin Spiegel, a 12-story tower across the street that would complete the Children's Hospital makeover. 

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