Rochelle and Kerry Ingram have lost count of how many times their son Devin has gone under the knife.
“We stopped counting after 20,” Rochelle Ingram said.
Since Devin was born more than 12 years ago, the family has shuttled back and forth between North Branch, Minn., and Minneapolis to tend to his kidney problems, including a transplant in 2001.
But Saturday was different.
Devin and almost 60 other children settled into their spacious new rooms after being moved from the old University of Minnesota children’s hospital on the East Bank to the new $175 million Amplatz Children’s Hospital in Riverside, which officially opened Saturday.
Marked by its metallic peacock-colored exterior, the 227,000-square-foot facility is home to 96 patient rooms, an intensive care unit and a children’s emergency department that works around the clock. Natural light floods through each room’s bay window and illuminates the walls and floors painted in cheery pastels.
It replaces the out-of-date children’s hospital on the East Bank, which will be repurposed to care for adults. Medical School Dean Aaron Friedman said hospital staff had to “work around” the old space.
“It’s going to be a tremendous improvement over what we’re able to provide today,” Friedman said of the new building. “The setting will work with us to improve and enhance the care.”
As Devin Ingram sat in his new room watching a movie on an enormous LCD TV, his parents listed the benefits of the facility that they’re sure to see more of in the coming years: a refrigerator and an extra pull-out bed in each room, more cupboard space and a washer and dryer on the premises.
Every room has just one patient, which gives the Ingrams privacy and some peace of mind.
“It seemed like every time we roomed with someone, he would catch something. Now we don’t have to worry about that,” Rochelle Ingram said.
Dr. Joseph Neglia, chairman of the University’s pediatrics department, has been involved with the design and planning of the building for the past several years.
Behind the shiny exterior and state-of-the-art technology, the hospital is focused on creating a positive healing environment for the children and their families, Neglia said.
A small touch-screen monitor hangs at each bedside that allows kids to pick movies or video games, change the room’s lighting and, if need be, call a nurse.
The hospital’s 96 private rooms are identical and were designed in conjunction with a team of children and their parents. Each room is 65 percent larger than the nation’s average room.
“It really is not a standard children’s hospital,” Neglia said. “It will allow them to feel a little more normal in a period of recovery.”
The hospital is named for Dr. Kurt Amplatz, who spent 40 years researching medicine at the University. His daughter Caroline Amplatz donated $50 million toward the hospital’s construction in 2009 in her father’s honor.
Caroline Amplatz, Friedman and Neglia all looked on at the hospital’s ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday.
As he watched “How to Train Your Dragon,” Devin Ingram and his family noted their much-improved view. The straight shot to Minneapolis’ downtown skyline is far better than the view of a brick wall at the old hospital.
“Or a porta potty,” Devin Ingram added.
“It’s more comfortable, too — more inviting,” Rochelle Ingram said. “It makes it not as bad to stay in the hospital.”
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