I first visited Dayton Children’s Hospital in 2011. The Junior League of Dayton, a women’s volunteer organization I joined a month earlier, hosted the tour as part of its monthly general membership meeting. Since I’d only been in the area for a year after moving from Michigan (yeah, yeah, I know), I was eager to attend and learn more about the local institutions that served the community.
“Many of you have probably been here before,” I remember the guide saying. “And if you haven’t yet, you probably will in the future. Not that we’re wishing that you’ll have to bring your kids in, but if you do, we’re here.”
The mothers in the group nodded knowingly. The mothers who had boys, in particular, said it was a boy-mom rite of passage to make at least one visit to the Dayton Children’s emergency room sometime before the kids turned 18.
I wasn’t a mother, so I breathed a sigh of relief that this wasn’t my story.
Less than a year later, I had a boy of my own. And within a month, my husband and I had to visit Dayton Children’s. Luckily, our visit was a false alarm driven by an exhausted new mother’s worries about her newborn son’s incessant cries. By the time we left, my 3-week old was fast asleep. I took that as a good sign about the place.
In late 2016, we returned. We’d had another boy, and this time, our littlest one had a nasty bruise on his head after falling on the playground. We were worried about a possible concussion (read more here), but luckily, he was fine.
Unlike our first visit, however, it was difficult to find the entrance to the emergency waiting area because large sections of the hospital were closed for the construction of a new patient tower to be unveiled in summer 2017.
Which leads me to June 11.
That Sunday, I made yet another visit to Dayton Children’s — this time, to see the long-awaited upgrade. The hospital opened the new 260,000-square-foot, eight-story tower to the public for an open house filled with food, fun, games and tours for the greater Dayton community to see a state-of-the-art facility designed to provide the best care possible for our little ones. Parent bloggers like yours truly were invited to write about the new facility and we received a small swag bag of branded goodies for signing up.
The entrance was stunning. Sunlight streamed into the vast, open atrium, which rivaled something I’d expect from a major research hospital in much larger cities.
Far from sterile, however, the three-story space was quite kid friendly — a good thing for a children’s hospital — with play spaces, art and sculptures for children that encompassed the theme of flight. After all, this is Dayton, home of the Wright brothers, and we take flight and aviation seriously here! (The atrium’s official name is the Take Flight Gallery — how cool is that?)
While children play, parents can enjoy a full-service cafeteria and a coffee shop with much-needed java for weary moms, dads and other relatives visiting a child there. Some visitors were already placing their orders.
The new lobby was breathtaking, but I was more impressed with the features I saw on the upper floors. From state-of-the art oncology suites to private single-baby and twin-baby NICU rooms, no detail was missed in making every space as comfortable and inviting as possible for children and families in a place where they’d rather not be.
That was a common theme throughout the day — no one wants to use a children’s hospital. But when it’s needed — and a children’s hospital will always be needed — parents, children, families and community members want to know their city offers the best care possible in a warm, compassionate environment.
I found that in the new Dayton Children’s patient tower, and I’m glad it’s here.
(And click here for my interview about the new facility!)