The University of South Alabama Foundation Board of Directors as well as members of the media were lead on a guided tour of the USA Children’s & Women’s hospital pediatric expansion following the foundation’s meeting on Thursday, Sept. 5.

The University of South Alabama Foundation, an endowment foundation that operates separately from the University, purchased University-owned property at the Brookley Aeroplex, which in turn allowed the University to fund the expansion of the hospital.

The nautically themed 200,000 sq. foot hospital tower will soon enter its second phase of refurbishment and is expected to be complete by May 2014, but the hospital will host a community open house on Sunday, Sept. 15 from 2-5 p.m.. The services offered at Children’s & Women’s Hospital were described as being special by Administrator Owen Bailey.

“We’ve only been able to find about eight facilities nationally that do those things, treat children and the adult woman and are in a free-standing building. We think that most of them are a hospital within a hospital,” Bailey said.

The hospital’s beach décor is fun yet serves a purpose. The floor resembles blue water and certain sections of the floor are a light tan color, resembling sand. Patients and visitors are instructed to stay “in the water” while nurses operate “in the sand.” This means nurses can operate within a concise location and leave plenty of room for patients and visitors to also have their space.

The hospital’s surgery section on the first floor went from 11,000 square feet to 44,000 square feet of work space and has eight operating rooms and a large sterile room at its core so staff can move efficiently.

The second floor houses a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and pharmacy. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held earlier this week for the pharmacy, which is now fully functioning. The NICU has 12 private rooms and the PICU went from only 14 beds to 20 bed units, all designed with family in mind. Patient rooms each have two beds and two sinks along with a couch, refrigerator and large bathrooms equipped with a shower and shower chair.

The third level is made up of patient rooms, a tree house and a Ronald McDonald Family Room. In levels three and four combined the hospital went from 53 inpatient beds to 68. The Ronald McDonald Family Room resembles a living room and acts as a “get away” for siblings or parents of patients. The hospital in conjunction with the Ronald McDonald House is recruiting volunteers to help maintain the two family rooms, the second of which is on level 4.

The 4th level of the tower houses more patient rooms, the second Ronald McDonald Family Room and large classrooms for the Class Act program. The Class Act program allows Mobile County Public School System teachers to teach children while they are in the hospital.

“That normalcy that we can provide about school work helps make the child’s experience less destructive and being in a hospital less of a negative impact,” Bailey said.

The hospital has also updated its logo, now a tree with the trunk made up of a woman and child. Bailey said with this logo the hospital wanted to reference the fact that they serve those two populations, women and children, and also wanted to refer to the Geri Moulton Children’s Park at the hospital’s entrance. The park, named after the wife of former USA President Gordon Moulton, is sprinkled with bronze statues of children, women and animals.

“We are really honored to be a part of this great transformation aspect of Children’s and Women’s hospital,” said USA Foundation Board of Directors member Maxey Roberts. “I know they have worked very hard to make the money go far and they have done a superb job.”

The property the foundation purchased from the University is located adjacent to the Brookley Aeroplex. This property, purchased by the foundation to provide sufficient funds to the University for the hospital expansion, is set to be used for the Brookley by the Bay development.

This development would be made up of hotels, conference centers and a small linear park. Roberts said the Brookley by the Bay project “might be on the horizon of seven-to-10 years.”