Long Islanders on Saturday took a look at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital’s new building, one that former patients and hospital staff said may improve medical care for child patients and make their families more comfortable.
More than 1,200 people, including families, former and current patients, doctors, staff and volunteers, got a glimpse of the $73 million, 71,500-square-foot facility during its open house. Although hospital staff will not move into the facility until Nov. 17, people toured the new building, enjoyed music and games, and visited booths with information on nutrition and health.
Margaret McGovern, the children’s hospital’s physician-in-chief, said the hospital was specifically designed to accommodate the special needs of children and their families, as well as to provide a comfortable space for families while their children heal and to reduce the trauma felt by hospitalized children.
“We’re really excited to bring this state-of-the-art children’s hospital to the children and families of Suffolk County,” McGovern said.
The 104-bed hospital, which has more than 180 physicians who practice more than 30 pediatric specialties, also will feature what hospital officials called state-of-the-art pediatric care services. The services include a pediatric unit, pediatric intensive care and oncology units and spaces for pediatric procedures.
Michael Reed, 19, of Yaphank, and his mother Barbara Reed, of Yaphank, said they were most excited about the additional space the hospital would be providing families. Michael Reed had stayed at the hospital five years ago after he was diagnosed with a chronic kidney disease and needed a transplant.
“You don’t want that hospital feeling. It’s just not a good feeling. With those new rooms and the more environmental it is, it’s a better environment for the patient … it’s like a warm welcome,” Michael Reed said.
Barbara Reed said the added space also would reduce cramming families into one room while their children received medical care.
“As a parent having to stay over with their child and having to be crammed in a room with other people … children when they’re sick need so much attention. It’s so important,” Barbara Reed said.
Carol Gomes, interim CEO of Stony Brook University Hospital, said the hospital’s addition of support services, such as child life services, would allow its patients to “feel more comfortable in an environment where it might be scary for them.”
“We’re there to take that fear away and to provide the necessary support to have them feel a lot more comfortable, both the parents and the children,” Gomes said.
Visiting with her family, Tracy Caliendo, 46, of Coram, said the new additions like private rooms for parents, safes to lock up valuables and pullout couches were among her favorites.
In January 2018, Tracy’s son Joseph Caliendo, then 10 years old, was in critical condition at the hospital after contracting strep throat that eventually caused him to go into septic shock. With tears in her eyes, Caliendo said the 12 days when her son was hospitalized was a scary time for her family.
“I hope that we never have to be back here, but if we do, we know we’ll be in good hands. [The additions] will make it a little bit easier on the families,” Caliendo said.
Joseph Caliendo, now 12, said the new hospital’s additions were “a very big improvement, and hopefully, other hospitals around can build off of this and transfer it around the country, around the world and continue to improve. It’s for the patients, to help the patients.”