skip navigation
Vol. LVII, No. 9
May 6, 2005

previous story

next story
Patients, Staff Celebrate CRC Move-In

On the front page...

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 patient.

During move-in day Apr. 2, Erias Hyman cuts the ribbon on a newly occupied patient care unit of the CRC.  
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.

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
Clinical Center director Dr. John Gallin (r) greets Marcos Arrieta of El Paso, Tex., the first pediatric patient to move into the Hatfield Center.  
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.

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 board room.

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."

Jim Wilson (l), Frank Kelly (c) and Gallin discuss last-minute logistics on move day.

Nurse Siu-Ping Ng helps Nicole Hofhine get settled in new digs.
At left, the medical board room serves as move headquarters for the day. At right, cleaning crew members (from l) Aida Atistibha, Woine Hagos, Zerfe Argaw and Precious Moko put on the final touches just before patients arrive.

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."

Pediatrics patient Dereck Aldona Reyes gets situated in sparkling accommodations. Excited hospital staff line the hallways as Gary Bowman is escorted to his new room.

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."

back to top of page