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New Wing of Children's Inn Opens

Photos By Ernie Branson and Joe Gannon

The Children's Inn at NIH held grand opening ceremonies May 5 to celebrate the first major expansion in the inn's 14-year history. The new wing, which provides 22 additional resident rooms and new public spaces for pediatric outpatients at NIH and their families, opened May 10, bringing inn capacity to 59 families.

Emcee Cokie Roberts
Past and present residents of the inn and their families joined HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni and others at a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the opening of the new wing. Author and veteran broadcast journalist Cokie Roberts, a long-time board member of the inn, served as emcee.

Since 1990, more than 6,000 children from all 50 states and 57 countries have stayed at the inn, some for a few days and some for months at a time.

The new wing more than doubles the size of the original inn. New, fully-equipped community kitchens, dining and lounge areas will be available to all families residing at the inn. There are also several outdoor patios, a teen room featuring a large-screen TV with surround-sound stereo, new staff office spaces and conference room, laundry room and a special fitness center with several exercise machines donated by the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

At a May 6 open house for employees, visitors learned that the tower portion of the addition will one day feature a large mobile hanging from the ceiling. From its arms will dangle prisms, to catch the sunlight streaming into the facility and paint the walls with moving colors.

The Merck Company Foundation provided $3.7 million toward the $6.4 million construction costs of the inn's expansion. The foundation has been the lead corporate partner with the inn since it funded the original construction in 1990.

Dr. Philip Pizzo, dean of Stanford University School of Medicine and founder of the Children's Inn during his 23-year tenure in NIH's intramural program, tells guests what life was like for young patients before there was an inn on campus.

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson wields a large pair of scissors as he helps young residents of the Children's Inn at NIH cut the ribbon to open the inn's new wing. Looking on (at l) is NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni.

Thompson also addressed the crowd.

Zerhouni welcomes guests and describes the growth in pediatric research over the last 15 years. The inn's new wing will go a long way toward meeting a growing need.

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