By Joe Lugara

New Children's Hospital Calls Manhattan Home

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Last month, the Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian opened its doors in Washington Heights. The debut marked a considerable rebirth for the century-plus-old institution: its new 10-story, 265,000-square-foot facility instantly makes it one of the largest hospitals of its kind in the nation. As Manhattan's only children's hospital, the new structure is particularly welcome. Dr. Herbert Pardes, president and CEO of New York-Presbyterian Hospital (the parent organization of the children's hospital), describes the new building as a "physical plant" designed to maintain pace with the institution's traditionally high level of clinical care and research; at the same time, he says, the hospital's new home enables its staff to provide the necessary dynamics that help keep the physical and emotional needs of its young patients, and their families, in balance. (Patients range in age from infancy to adolescence). The "expansion and renewal”, as the hospital terms it, is a gift from the city's financial community. Its $120 million cost is strictly philanthropic, with gifts from JP Morgan Chase to Goldman Sachs. The biggest donor, however, is the organization whose name the hospital now bears: Morgan Stanley. The state-of-the-art facility was completed in August. To the credit of Ewing Cole Cherry Brott and Davis Brody Bond, its architects and designers, the building doesn't resemble a hospital from either the outside or the inside. The outside looks more like a modern art museum; while the inside, with its spacious floor areas, big windows, occasional curvilinear forms and blue/green pastel-colored decorative touches, is closer in spirit to a children's museum. It's difficult to imagine that such an architecturally pleasing environment would play host to anything but joyful entertainment, but the "new look" Children's Hospital houses separate floors dedicated to neurology, cardiology, oncology, surgery and labor/delivery, not to mention a pediatric intensive care unit and a neonatal intensive care unit. (Another floor houses the Diagnostic and Interventional Imaging Center). There are 191 beds overall — 100 medical/surgical beds, 41 pediatric critical care beds, and 50 neonatal critical care beds. On the other hand, there's also the Wintergarden Plaza, where live performances are staged. "We understand how difficult it is for a child to spend time in the hospital, and we understand the need to provide a nurturing environment," says the hospital's executive director Cynthia Sparer. "Our commitment is to remember — at all times — that the patient we're caring for is the child." To that end, the institution has genuinely put its collective heads together; more than 400 of its doctors, nurses, and support staff — even the family members of patients — have had their say involving the design of the new building. Most of the patient rooms are single occupancy, measuring in at 382 square feet. The hospital describes the rooms as "three zone", taking the patient, their family and clinical staff all into account — with flat screen televisions, computer access and an art/photo wall display area for patients; and daybeds, writing desks, computer-ready Internet access and storage areas for parents. (Sleep-in areas for parents are also provided in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit's "Launch Pad", where parents are invited to settle themselves as they prepare to take their babies home after long stays). Located at each inpatient unit, the hospital's Child Life Center sports a playroom where patients can learn coping mechanisms. There are also family lounge/kitchens, meditation rooms, pantries, laundry rooms, and even classrooms staffed by city public school teachers. The Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian is located at 3959 Broadway (166th Street and Broadway).