Children's Hospital move wraps up
First patient to make the move waves to bystanders while being transported from Oakland to the Children's Hospital new location in Lawrenceville this morning.
Transplant patient Oliver Wilhelm III, 5, of Kingwood, W.Va., gives a thumbs-up to his mom, Crystal at the old Children's Hospital in Oakland before he was being transferred to the new hospital this morning. He is among 178 patients being transported to the new Lawrenceville location. At right is registered nurse Christin Cooper and Oliver's father, Oliver Wilhelm, Jr.
Ambulances line up outside the entrance of the old Children's Hospital on DeSoto Street in Oakland around 6 a.m. today to transport patients to the hospital's new Lawrenceville home.
Mike Neckerman, left, and John Hall of Advance Sign remove the sign at the entrance of the old Children's Hospital in Oakland around 6 a.m. this morning in anticipation of the hospital's move a new Lawrenceville home.
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UMPC's Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh this afternoon wrapped up the daunting process of closing its longtime Oakland facility and moving 178 patients to its new $625 million campus in Lawrenceville.
The move took more than six hours to complete but went smoothly, hospital officials said. The final patient left the Oakland hospital at 1:19 p.m. and arrived in Lawrenceville at 1:30 p.m.
Two years in the planning, the move began at 6 a.m., when signs identifying the facility in Oakland were taken down and the emergency room there closed. Simultaneously, emergency room admissions began in Lawrenceville.
At precisely 7:15 a.m., the first child to be moved, cancer patient Rylee Brunette, 10, of Chippewa, Beaver County, was wheeled out of the hospital to a waiting ambulance. Wearing a surgical mask and a bandanna on her head, Rylee waved to news reporters and photographers outside.
Like all patients making the 2 1/2-mile trip to Lawrenceville, she was accompanied by a registered nurse, a transport attendant, a paramedic and a parent. Two minutes later, another patient was rolled out.
Patients were expected to leave the hospital at five-minute intervals, but the pace was much quicker and the move took significantly less time than hospital officials had expected.
"Once we got into the flow of the move, it just had legs," said Jennifer Iagnemma, who coordinated the move. "People were very prepared."
By 8:15 a.m., only an hour into the move, patient Oliver Wilhelm III, 5, of Kingwood, W.Va., was the 22nd child to be placed in an ambulance for the trip to Lawrenceville.
Upon his arrival there, Oliver was enthralled with the new hospital. Oliver, who received a small bowel transplant on March 5, excitedly pointed to his new surroundings as he was wheeled in. Once inside his new accommodations, Room 738, he told his father, "I don't want to go back" to Oakland.
And then he took off running down the wide hallway to a sitting area where he tried out every chair and stared out at the city through large windows.
And he visited with other patients who became his friends during their stay on 7 North, the abdominal transplant unit in the Oakland facility.
The 2 1/2-mile trip between the two hospitals took about 10 minutes. Police were stationed along the route to help smooth potential traffic problems.
Dr. Steven G. Docimo, hospital vice president of medical affairs, said he and other Children's staff had never been involved in such a massive move of patients.
"And I hope I never am again," he said, smiling. "It is unusual. This crosstown move is very rare. Most hospital moves involve moving from one wing to another."
The move involved about 275 physicians, nurses, staff and emergency medical services personnel, and more than 40 ambulances.
First Published May 2, 2009 8:50 am