At the Nov. 11 dedication of University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, 11-year-old twins Berne and Maren Denison of Cedar Falls summed up the importance of the new hospital in a way only they could.
“My mom and dad told me that the people who designed this hospital wanted it to be ‘kid-centered,’” said Berne. “We finally figured out what this means.” Together, the twins said, “This is our new hospital” before sharing a high-five.
Both of the Denison children have cystic fibrosis and were born prematurely. Berne spent 58 days in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and Maren stayed for 63.
The twins were among current and former patients, families, donors, employees, legislators, and university leaders who attended the event held in the lobby of the new children’s hospital. It was a day to thank more than 600 faculty, staff, patients, and families for their help in planning and designing the hospital, as well as hundreds of construction team members for their work. The ceremony also highlighted the role philanthropy played in making the dream of building a world-class children’s hospital a reality. More than 11,000 donors from all 50 states contributed to the project.
“Today we really are strengthening our commitment to Iowa’s children by providing them with a special place for their care,” said Jean E. Robillard, vice president for medical affairs and dean of the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. “With the opening of UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, we are demonstrating to the world that Iowa values and respects our children and the future they represent.”
The 14-story, 507,000-square-foot hospital, which is scheduled to open Dec. 10, will offer private rooms for all patients, eight pediatric operating rooms, and a pediatric pharmacy. It will also feature a number of child-friendly options, including a playground, gardens, library, interactive theater, and—of course—an unbeatable view of Kinnick Stadium. The new hospital consolidates inpatient pediatric care, procedures, imaging, and surgery that previously had been located throughout UI Hospitals and Clinics, which will allow those spaces to be converted to private rooms for adult patients.
Ken Kates, chief executive officer of UI Hospitals and Clinics and associate vice president of UI Health Care, said, “I’d like to take a moment to highlight how these construction crews have connected with the mission and have truly gone above and beyond to embrace the children and families we serve as this project has progressed. From allowing our pediatric patients to apply the first coat of paint, to raising a beam signed by the kids, to visiting them in the hospital and distributing hundreds of teddy bears that they created, these workers shared our vision and were true partners on this journey.”
The dedication also marked the official name change of the children’s hospital in honor of Jerre and Mary Joy Stead and their extraordinary commitment to children’s medicine at the UI. Natives of Maquoketa, Iowa, and residents of Scottsdale, Arizona, the Steads have committed $25 million to children’s medicine at the UI.
“To see turning a dream into a vision into a reality, thanks to everybody here, and what it will do for years and generations to come, is something we can be very proud of and very thankful for,” said Jerre Stead. “We’re blessed with being part of the world’s greatest institution.”
For details about the new children’s hospital, visit uichildrens.org/buildingupdate.