Art Forms Take Multiple Shapes at New Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Kentucky

Celebrating the successful completion of a multi-year planning and design process, the Kentucky Children’s Hospital unveiled its new Makenna Foundation Welcome Center and Betti Ruth Robinson Taylor Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Lexington, Kentucky.

HGA served as design architect on the project, with GBBN as architect of record. The welcome center and NICU mark a milestone in providing the most advanced care for at-risk newborns in Kentucky.

A welcoming setting

UK Healthcare has a strong tradition of commissioning local artists to design installations throughout the campus. To continue this tradition, it was important to incorporate art in many forms throughout the new children’s hospital. Featured in the lobby are kites created from marbles donated by patients’ families.

Kentucky Children’s Hospital is a hospital within a hospital, part of the University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital, all under the UK HealthCare system.

Originally designed in 1988, KCH lacked a central lobby and was accessible only through a single visitor elevator within the main hospital.

To bring greater visibility to KCH and the NICU, the design team filled in an existing open-air courtyard between the main hospital and children’s hospital to create the 8,800-square-foot welcome center. Now, two prominent interior entrances, framed in warm wood and bright-blue paneling, welcome patients from the ground or first floors of the main hospital.

The lobby’s design includes clusters of colorful seating options at a variety of scales, for children and adults alike. The light-filled interior features an oblong skylight stretching across the arched ceiling, an interactive digital video wall and, most prominently, a large-scale “Exuberance” art installation comprised of marble-filled kites suspended from the ceiling.

Overall, the welcome center includes patient and visitor registration, children’s-focused gift shop, Simpson Family Theater to host events and programs, pediatric health education center with educational resources and business center for parents and families.

Planning the NICU

Decentralized nursing stations provide clear views into each room. Rooms within each neighborhood feature their own unique mural related to the neighborhood theme, further enhancing the family experience.

Beyond the welcome center, the 45,000-square-foot NICU consists of renovation and in-fill construction of the children’s hospital, replacing the existing 8,300-square-foot NICU with expanded patient and family spaces and caregiver resources on the first floor, and a new pediatric outpatient and sedation center on the ground floor.

HGA and GBBN partnered with doctors, nurses, staff and the patient-parent advisory group to gather input, define needs and create a space to deliver the best care possible. Feedback included more family space, single rooms for increased patient-family privacy and care (from the existing six babies per room), good sightlines between charting stations and patients’ rooms and more collaborative spaces between caregivers, medical students and residents to support KCH’s academic medical center mission.

Advanced care

Full-glass sliding doors not only provide a quieter atmosphere for families and patients, but also allow direct visual access to staff at all times, both within and beyond the room. Each room incorporates a lighting system helping develop the infants’ natural circadian rhythms.

The 70-bed NICU includes 66 single-bed patient rooms with daybeds for parents; two double-bed patient rooms with daybeds; circadian rhythm lighting; infant nutrition room; lounge, kitchen, laundry and shower facilities for parents; two care-by-parent rooms and staff spaces with workroom, lounge area, quiet room and terrace.

The NICU is organized into six neighborhoods that feature colorful, nature-themed mosaic-tile murals, with approximately 12 beds each, which allow nurses to dedicate themselves to a smaller group of patients for integrated team care. A variety of caregiver spaces encourage huddles, support and learning. Additionally, 12-foot-wide corridors enhance movement and workflows through the NICU, visually and physically increasing connections between staff, patients and families.

The corridors were designed with additional width to provide increased visibility and space for staff collaboration. Skylights and large-scale windows infuse the interior with light, creating a soothing and warm environment.

Affiliated Engineers Inc. served as project engineer and Turner Construction was general contractor.

Photos courtesy of Halkin Mason Photography.

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Posted April 10, 2019

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