Welcoming children and families

Published: October 31st, 2012

Category: Announcements, Your Gift in Action

Laura Brown, Shands at the University of Florida visitor assistant, greets visitors with smiles and answers at the hospital’s east lobby welcome desk.

“I go out of my way to help people,” said Brown, who has held this post for three years.

Her desk and her job will soon benefit as the area will be transformed to include special accommodations for pediatric patients and their families. The renovations are part of the vision for Shands Hospital for Children at UF to provide improved access and a patient and family focus with a separate entrance, elevators and co-located pediatric programs on adjacent floors.

“We are planning a two-story pavilion leading into a dedicated lobby area for Shands Hospital for Children at UF, as well as a vibrant new façade, ” said David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., UF senior vice president for health affairs and UF&Shands Health System president.

Construction will begin in the spring. This initiative will cost approximately $11 million and will be funded in part by donations. The Sebastian Ferrero Foundation recently made the project the focus of the fifth annual Noche de Gala fund-raiser in September, promising $1 million towards the effort.

“We can only do this with philanthropic help,” Guzick said. There are hospital funds set aside for the project, but he said he hopes to raise money for half the cost. “We are continuing to work together to help realize our shared vision to create a university children’s hospital that is unsurpassed in patient care, research and education, and a facility to match that vision.

Guzick said the overall transformation will total about $130 million over the next several years.

The new entry pavilion, lobby and building façade will definitely enhance the hospital experience of our pediatric patients and their loved ones, according to Brown and her colleagues. Visitors approach them to ask where they should take their children. Brown said she looks forward to being better able to serve patients and families within a more family focused environment.

The Pediatric E.R. is a great example of family focused design that supports the special needs of our young patients. It is the area’s first emergency room specifically for kids. The space is now more appealing with its nautical theme, porthole windows and live aquariums.

“The Pediatric E.R. has beauty and a little glow,” Brown said. She hopes the same transformation occurs to make the lobby a better place for children. “I’m just looking forward to being part of the team.