February 24, 2024
Healing by Play
Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, which is part of Memorial Healthcare System, doubled its space with the $166-million addition. Four new floors with 156,000 square feet were built on top of the hospital’s original four stories, which opened in 2011.

Photo: Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital

Healing by Play
CEO Caitlin Stella says Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital is committed to the "healing power of play."

Photo: Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital

Healing by Play
A mobile intraoperative MRI machine helps surgeons to get a better look at a patient's brain during surgery.

Photo: Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital

Healing by Play
The Wasie Neotnatla Intensive Care Unit at JOe DiMaggio Children's Hospital received a Level IV destination, making it the only Level IV NICDFU in Broward County. The designation means the NICU meets standards set out in state law for staffing, personnel and equipment.

Photo: Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital

Economic Backbone: Pediatrics

Healing by Play

Michael Fechter | 8/8/2023

There was plenty of expensive, shiny new medical equipment on display when Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital opened its new expanded facility in Hollywood last fall, but the non-medical additions have proved to be at least as important. It’s all part of “Joe D’s” commitment to “the healing power of play,” says CEO Caitlin Stella.

Additional space, both indoors and outside, allows kids to get exercise and have fun in a cheery environment. New congregate space for families has helped lighten what can be a challenging time. The design was tweaked to add an outdoor terrace adjacent to the rehabilitation gym to make it easier to get fresh air and sunshine.

Even employees have their own playroom of sorts, with massage chairs, games and a place to relax and socialize.

The 8th floor’s Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Child Life Zone, the 14th of its kind in the country, features space for dancing, exercise, entertainment and more. A family lounge allows for outside guests and has fostered supportive relationships among families whose children are patients.

The Garth Brooks zone has “turned into the heart of the hospital,” Stella says.

That’s not to minimize the expensive, shiny new stuff. The addition includes four cardiac procedural suites. With a new mobile iMRI (intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging) machine, brain surgeons can check a tumor’s margins and ensure precision on operations for epilepsy and other brain procedures before they’ve even stitched the patient’s head closed.

“These are very precise surgeries on very small heads,” Stella says. The MRI’s 3-Tesla strength magnet generates immediate high-resolution images for the doctors to see. Previously, a patient’s incision was closed and then they were sent for an MRI. The new machinery helps reduce the number of times the surgeons may have to reopen the skull and that, in turn, reduces infection risks.

When it’s not being used in surgery, the machine is moved along a ceiling track into a neighboring room and available for more routine MRIs.

Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, which is part of Memorial Healthcare System, doubled its space with the $166-million addition. Four new floors with 156,000 square feet were built on top of the hospital’s original four stories, which opened in 2011. Construction on the addition started in 2019 and was slowed by COVID-19, but the hospital was able to beat the clock with pre-ordered construction materials, avoiding cost increases and supply chain issues that came along with the pandemic.

An ongoing fundraising campaign helped make the addition possible, with $70 million in donations as of June.

The community has a strong bond with the hospital, Stella says, in part because of most families will come through the hospital’s doors at some point. Kids break a lot of bones, she notes, and Joe DiMaggio Children’s is the likely place to repair them. Its non-surgical medical staff also attends most Broward County high school sporting events to provide first aid in case of injuries.

A high-profile campaign with Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov helps. He donates $1,600 each time he scores a goal and $800 for each assist. That’s added up to more than $300,000 over the past four seasons. — Michael Fechter

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