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The lobby of the Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research
Center was relatively still on Saturday morning, Apr. 2. A few
people lingered at the café tables by the fountain, while others
quietly prepared for the day ahead — wiping countertops,
sweeping hallways and turning on computers. The calm was soon broken
by the sound of wheels rolling across tile floors somewhere in
the south end of the first floor. It echoed through the CC lobby. “The
patient is on his way,” someone hollered over a radio.
Every person who had been answering phones, mopping floors, scrubbing
desks or checking files, stopped what they were doing, walked into
the lobby and turned to look in the direction of the growing clamor.
Doctors, nurses, hospitality staff, housekeepers, construction
workers and visitors all strained to get a glimpse of the convoy
heading toward the pediatrics unit. As the sound grew louder, people's
faces changed from looks of expectation to welcoming smiles. The
CRC's first pediatric patient had arrived. Marcos Arrieta, reclining
in his bed, was escorted by a crew of nurses, volunteers, other
staff, and his mother, Maria, as he made his way from the old hospital
to the bright, new rooms of the CRC, where he was formally welcomed
by CC director Dr. John Gallin as the new pediatrics unit's first
Arrieta shyly smiled as Gallin shook his hand and began pointing
out some of the new features in the boy's room, including the flatscreen
television set that also serves as a computer monitor, the keyboard
and mouse, and the glow-in-the-dark animal footprints on the ceiling.
|During move-in day Apr. 2, Erias Hyman cuts
the ribbon on a newly occupied patient care unit of the CRC.
Following Arrieta's arrival, the new pediatrics unit and Gallin
welcomed four more patients and their family members: Derek Aldona
Reyes, Valeria Rivero, Kathryn Yokoyama and Nicole Hofhine.
They were excited about the move. A couple of them kept asking, "'Can
we go? Can we go now?' all through the night," said nurse Siu-Ping
Ng, watching the beds wheel in.
Hofhine's mother, Michelle, walked into the room and exclaimed, "Look
at this view! You can see the Children's Inn right across the street." Nicole
and her mother have been coming to the Clinical Center for almost
10 years and had been anxious to see the new building. "We were
here when they broke ground for this building," Michelle says. "It's
great to finally see the inside." Nicole seemed pleased with her
room too as she arranged her two stuffed dogs beside her in bed and
smiled at the sight of her very own computer keyboard.
|Clinical Center director Dr. John Gallin
(r) greets Marcos Arrieta of El Paso, Tex., the first pediatric
patient to move into the Hatfield Center.
The pediatrics unit was not the only area of the hospital alive
with movement and transition. Hundreds of staff, movers and volunteers
were on hand to coordinate the moving of 89 patients from the old
building to the new. Proudly wearing their bright blue T-shirts
with the, "Follow Me to the CRC" logo designed especially for the
Clinical Center move, volunteers and staff tended to every need — whether
it was moving furniture, cleaning new work stations, stocking pharmacy
shelves, preparing patients' meals for the day, translating for
non-English-speaking patients and their families, reassuring patients
or communicating updates from the move headquarters in the medical
The most challenging part of the move was that it had to be completed
in one day, but it was the only realistic option. Senior Nurse
Executive Laura Chisholm, who served as co-chair of the relocation
task force, explains, "Logistically, we could not split our patient
services between two locations. We had to move all of our equipment
and patients at the same time, which made it all the more challenging.
Thankfully, we had a great team working together, so it made the
whole move go exceptionally well."
For months leading up to the move, employees participated in a
multitude of simulated tests, drills and exercises to prepare them
for any situation that might arise on the move date and the days
following. The relocation task force led practice walks through
various routes from the Magnuson to Hatfield building many times,
looking for anything that might interfere with the movement of
patient beds and determining the best path to take. "We have been
through every scenario, prepared for every possible thing that
could happen," said one volunteer. "We're ready. No one is nervous;
we're just excited."
The move finished ahead of schedule at 3:38 p.m., but not without
a few obstacles. "The facilities staff did an amazing job," Chisholm
says. "Throughout the day, they fixed a broken elevator, tended
to two small floods, built a ramp to allow beds to travel over
a path that had a bump in it, took care of door access issues and
finished last-minute housekeeping needs."
In spite of the day's challenges, the consensus among staff, patients
and their families was one of excitement. Family members joined
doctors and nurses as they all snapped photos of loved ones moving
into the sparkling new facilities. Patients shook hands with the
movers who had pushed their beds, and smiled and waved to staff
as their beds progressed down hallways.
|Patients are transported through the CRC’s
signature open atrium.
The move was one of great historical significance for NIH, but
it was also a memorable day for those present.
Said Gallin, "Getting to this point has been an adventure — like
climbing Mt. Everest. It's been a 12-year hike, and this last thrust
may be short, but we'll reach an awesome goal."
Reflecting on the journey to completion, he added, "Watching this
enterprise move forward, watching what you do so well — we
have made history in this house of hope."