One of the North Carolina's four academic medical centers, Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville is a resource to more than 1.3 million people. With its new Pediatric Palliative Care Unit, this medical center's 122-bed Children's Hospital now has a full complement of pediatric care.

The life of each child in palliative care is limited, thus ever more precious. Beyond the physical, palliative care programs address the needs of the whole child, with an additional emphasis on delivering compassionate and specialized care with dignity, privacy, and respect.

Placing the child as the design centerpiece takes specialized care to new heights. At the outset, the room carries the name of the child and can be filled with his or her artwork. The children choose their bedding and receive pillows created by local quilters. The rooms are purposefully angled to give each child a larger view of the environment, the family, the entire suite, and the Prayer Garden. Additionally, designers created ceiling-soffit shapes and flooring patterns that guide one toward the child.

Project category: New construction (completed January 2007)

Chief administrator: Stephen J. Lawler, President, (252) 847-4451

Firm: FreemanWhite, Inc., (919) 782-0699

Design team: Craig Leonard, AIA, Project Architect/Lead Designer; Angela Byrd, IIDA, LEED, AP, Lead Designer for Interiors; Ned Jennings, PE, Mechanical Engineer/HVAC Design; Dave Delany, PE, Electrical Engineer

Photography: © Jerry Blow Architectural Photography

Total building area (sq. ft.): 1,265

Construction cost/sq. ft.: Not released

Total construction cost (excluding land): Not released

In this palliative care design, the positive distractions involve every human sense, from playful ceiling light designs and a custom-designed fish tank to the sounds of running water and a real garden, where the child's bed can be rolled outside for fresh air, warm sunshine, and a visit with a family pet.

From individualized nameplates to a Prayer Garden for petting one's dog, this is pediatric palliative care worth imitating.