It’s never fun to go to the hospital, but designers of the new Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, Fort Myers, part of Lee Health, may have come close by creating a colorful, whimsical atmosphere for kids and their families.

Bright colors, fun representations of local wildlife and photos that showcase the nature of the region are evident throughout the eight story, 300,000-square-foot pediatric tower that is scheduled to open May 10.

Lee Health wanted to build a distinctive children’s hospital with a welcoming environment integrated with nature, supportive of technology and flexible for future needs, says Dave Kistel, vice president of facilities and support services.

To keep spirits high and to assist in wayfinding, each floor features a specific color theme and recognizable icon to showcase fun images of local wildlife, landscape and beaches, he says. Exterior glazing allows ample levels of natural light to enter the hospital.  

“The goal was to create an interior theme showcasing the beauty of Southwest Florida. This was exemplified by stunning photography of the region, which includes children of staff and the community in local settings,” Kistel says.  

The $144 million pediatric tower will co-locate all children’s departments into a comprehensive medical facility that will address the community's growing need for pediatric services.

The hospital will open with 128 beds, and can expand to 160. It will feature a pediatric emergency department on the second level with a service ramp separate from the surface parking.

The new pediatric hospital pavilion also will include pre- and post-op surgical services, intensive care, hematology and oncology care, outpatient clinics, neonatal care, a pharmacy, diagnostic imaging and administrative services.

The facility is connected to the existing hospital on three floors, and the goal was to share ancillary services with the children's hospital, including  radiology, surgery, materials management and the lab.

The site work was phased to accommodate the continued operation of existing services on the HealthPark Medical Center campus during construction, Kistel says. 

Improvements include expanded parking, reconfiguration of site access roads and underground utilities, and direct access to the pediatric emergency department. 

The project also includes renovations to the existing hospital and expansion to the central energy plant and parking lot, which brings the total cost of the project to $242 million, Kistel says.

Keeping the new hospital within the current HealthPark Medical Center location enabled builders and designers to utilize existing clinical, loading and central energy plant spaces to support the new children’s facility.   

Construction phasing kept the hospital fully functional as the new facility was built. In addition, collaboration among all stakeholders kept the hospital operational and safe during the improvements.

The new hospital design incorporated co-locating all air handlers to two central locations to allow maintenance without compromising clinical operations on the other floors.

The general contractor is Skanska Gates, a joint venture between Skanska USA based in New Jersey and Gates in Bonita Springs, Fla. The architect is Harvard Jolly Inc., based in Tampa, Fla.

In other health care facility news:

• Wisconsin-based Aurora Health Care plans to build an ambulatory surgery center and medical office building in a rapidly growing development near Milwaukee. When complete, the $55.5 million project will enhance patient access to a variety of services, including general surgery, orthopedics, pediatrics, gastrointestical disorders, pain management and urology.

The multistory, approximately 130,000-square-foot facility will include an outpatient imaging center, sports health and rehabilitation, a specialty physician clinic and dispensary pharmacy. 

•  Mortenson Construction, Minneapolis, was awarded a contract to build UCHealth’s new Highlands Ranch Hospital, which will provide advanced health services to residents in Highlands Ranch and Douglas County in Colorado.

UCHealth will partner with community physicians and the University of Colorado School of Medicine to provide care at the new hospital, which will open with 72 inpatient beds and provide an intensive care unit, operating rooms, advanced cardiac services, an emergency department and complete imaging capabilities.

EYP Health, formerly WHR Architects, is the designer. Groundbreaking is scheduled for May and the project is projected to be completde in late 2018.