On Saturday morning, I was honored to be one of the first to tour the remarkable new Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Roughly a dozen bloggers and social media users gathered in the underground parking facility to begin our tour at 10:00am. As I stood with the other invitees, I felt like one of the kids getting ready to see Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory. Each of us were so excited to open the doors and see this amazing new facility. Luckily, we didn’t have any of the mischief that took place in that movie. I was funny to see everyone working their smart phones and hear the “chirp” of another picture sent to twitter throughout the tour though. This isn’t about us though, it is about Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the celebration of years of hard work.

As soon as you walk into the facility, you are greeted by animated graphics on the wall and a sign that says “Welcome”. The tones, creatures, artwork all very much designed to make a child feel like they are in a wondrous place. The floors are lined with footprints from frogs, ducks, even fish swimming along the path. Even the emergency room waiting area features a massive round fish tank. If you’ve ever been waiting in a urgent care area with a child not feeling well, you can understand how important enjoyable “distractions” can be to keep them entertained and calm. No detail has been missed.

We began our tour in the ER area. This area will increase the Pediatric Trauma Center to double it’s size from 24,000 to 40,000 square feet. Several of those on the tour noted the very small, delicate hospital bed in one of the ER rooms. I couldn’t help but think how sad it would be to need one, but how glad I am that Nationwide Children’s is here for anyone that will. The attention to detail is obvious throughout the entire facility. From the ER we took elevators to the 9th floor to see the patient rooms and rehabilitation area.

Thanks to the design of the building, the views from all areas in the hospital are stunning. From the 9th floor we were able to get an overhead view on the underground parking area below. They explained the challenges with creating the garden and patio area above the underground parking due to the weight on the roof. Again, the attention to detail was amazing. This dedication to detail could really be seen in the patient rooms. Viewing these areas more as a parent than a medical professional, what interested me was the way that they thought of the children. Each room features a patient controlled, color changing headboard. It is stunning. The children can change the color to whatever they wish. Each headboard can also be seen through the windows outside. Magnetic paint was used so children can hang artwork and make the room their own. Smart TV’s communicate to each patient and allow them the ability to watch movies and play games. A lift track runs over each bed all the way to the bathroom and shower.

The rehabilitation area was amazing. Called “Determination Way”, the very first thing you will see is an actual car. Airlifted in before the ceiling and walls were completed, the car provides important training for patients and parents on loading and unloading into a vehicle (for example). The floor features multiple textures and patterns (carpet, tile, wood). There are ramps, steps and other things that might be obstacles which will need to be conquered once leaving the facility. At the far end of this area, they even included a small climbing wall and basketball hoop. Brilliant.

The main lobby is a magical forest of wonder and amazement. Animal character workers found throughout the hospital are all found working their important tasks (astronomer, musician, mail carrier). A massive coo coo clock tree rises high into the air and actually announces the change in hour. Additional trees feature areas for children to explore. The walls feature hidden images for children to find and identify. Again, the attention to detail is so obvious. Even in the lobby.

Following our tour we had the opportunity to sit with three professionals in the fields of pediatrics, nutrition and psychology for a question and answer session. Although I had to leave early, I appreciated each of these individuals taking the time to answer our questions and discuss how the hospital was planned to address these areas of concern. As I drove away from the tour, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride that this remarkable facility is right here in our city. It is sure to be recognized nationally and deservedly so.

There are so many things to say, but I highly encourage anyone reading this in Columbus to attend the open house this Sunday from 11am – 4pm. You will have the opportunity to see all that Nationwide Children’s Hospital has to offer for yourself. As so many of us said while we were there, we hope we never need it, but we’re so glad they are here. I am also extremely honored to have had this opportunity. Thanks to all that made it possible. Well done Nationwide Children’s Hospital. It is clear to see that “Everything Matters” to you in this facility.