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The Daily Tar Heel

Dedication Reveals New Hospitals

N.C. Women's and Children's Hospitals, slated to open in October, will include an indoor park and a solarium.

For many people, these are words associated with a visit to the hospital.

But UNC Hospitals officials and staff hope to ease some patient and family anxiety with the patient-friendly design of the newly constructed N.C. Women's and Children's Hospitals, which were dedicated Saturday.

When the hospitals open in late October, they will serve as a new home for the women and infant services offered at the N.C. Memorial Hospital. Plans to construct the facility began in the mid-1980s when officials recognized the need to renovate the aging UNC Hospitals.

"We planned the building from the patient perspective, not the providers," said Mary Beck, director of planning and development of the two hospitals.

The two new towers are located on Manning Drive next to the Neurosciences Building. Eventually, a roadway will link all the UNC Hospitals to provide easier access.

Beck said patient comfort was a key consideration in building the hospitals. Both facilities utilize special lighting, a clean, modern design and art to create a more inviting atmosphere.

Construction on the new hospitals began three and a half years ago. Beck said the funds for the $166 million project came from bonds sold with approval from UNC Health Care's Board of Governors in 1995.

The facilities at the Children's Hospital are all designed to make the hospital more inviting for children. Spacious private rooms and lounges accommodate family visits. Children can let loose in the "Play Atrium," and next door is the state's only accredited K-12 school for hospitalized children.

And the Women's Hospital is marked by the same attention to detail.

"(The hospitals) will combine holistic and humanistic care with cutting-edge technology," said Valerie Parisi, chairwoman of obstetrics and gynecology at UNC Hospitals. "We now have the ability and facility for caring for women for life."

The Women's Hospital features a solarium and courtyard to create a natural environment for its patients. Parisi said the soothing atmosphere combined with services such as the midwifery program and women's resource center will emphasize family-centered care, disease prevention and patient convenience.

She said the features of the hospitals will teach medical students and residents to emphasize outpatient care and wellness.

Alan Stiles, chairman of the Department of Pediatrics, said the new facilities aim to help teach students. "The hospitals will enhance the learning experience for students," he said.

Stiles said the new hospitals will provide medical students with more space and different opportunities to learn through Web-based educational tools.

Eric Munson, president and CEO of UNC Hospitals, said plans are under way to replace the clinical cancer center, which now occupies the old tuberculosis sanatorium, with a cancer tower and a cardiac tower. Each is expected to be completed in five to 10 years.

Stiles said, "In the bigger picture, this brings us to the level that we need to be at for caring for people in this state --they deserve this."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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