Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is recognized worldwide for its care, tending everyone from the very smallest of NICU patients up through twentysomething-aged survivors of pediatric cancers. This latter group is an interesting one—I hadn’t known that many such patients continue to see their pediatric oncologists well into adulthood. Dr. John P. Perentesis, director of Cincinnati Children’s oncology and cancer programs, explained that, considering the very specialized nature of the doctors’ expertise, it just makes sense.  

Before the holidays, Perentesis graciously led me and Senior Editor Anne DiNardo on a tour of the hospital’s newly renovated Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute (CBDI). While all children’s hospitals face the challenge of designing a facility that will feel welcoming whether a patient is 2 or 18, Perentesis and the design team from GBBN Architects (Cincinnati) took a different approach for the CBDI—and sort of split the unit in half.

GBBN’s Angela Mazzi (who arranged our tour and accompanied us, as well) and interior designer Erin Schmidt were the key team members on the project, creating unique but related experiences for patients depending on their age. Cincinnati-based graphic design firm Kolar Design played a big role, as well, providing artwork and graphics. On one side, young children are surrounded by a playful, colorful jungle theme with age-appropriate games and amenities; on the other, the theme is modified with a more mature approach—but it remains positive and uplifting, and certainly in line with the overall aesthetic of the hospital.

The approach begins with separate waiting rooms and carries all the way through the outpatient and inpatient clinics. And the layout includes a central core where staff can move between the two sides seamlessly, and convene in closed-off work areas to confer with other team members in a well-equipped, easily accessed environment. During the tour we stood in the main workroom, surrounded by clinicians either working on their own at computer stations or grouped together around white boards discussing specific cases, as Perentesis explained how positive the staff response has been.  

The new outpatient clinic was completed in January 2013, and the inpatient clinic (on a separate floor) was completed in July 2013. Click through the photos for more of the story.