Amplatz Children’s Hospital opens

The University’s new $175 million children’s hospital opened Saturday on the West Bank.

Kyle Potter

Rochelle and Kerry Ingram have lost count of how many times their son Devin has gone under the knife.
âÄúWe stopped counting after 20,âÄù Rochelle Ingram said.
Since Devin was born more than 12 years ago, the family has shuttled back and forth between North Branch, Minn., and Minneapolis to tend to his kidney problems, including a transplant in 2001.
But Saturday was different.
Devin and almost 60 other children settled into their spacious new rooms after being moved from the old University of Minnesota childrenâÄôs hospital on the East Bank to the new $175 million Amplatz ChildrenâÄôs Hospital in Riverside, which officially opened Saturday.
Marked by its metallic peacock-colored exterior, the 227,000-square-foot facility is home to 96 patient rooms, an intensive care unit and a childrenâÄôs emergency department that works around the clock. Natural light floods through each roomâÄôs bay window and illuminates the walls and floors painted in cheery pastels.
It replaces the out-of-date childrenâÄôs hospital on the East Bank, which will be repurposed to care for adults. Medical School Dean Aaron Friedman said hospital staff had to âÄúwork aroundâÄù the old space.
âÄúItâÄôs going to be a tremendous improvement over what weâÄôre able to provide today,âÄù Friedman said of the new building. âÄúThe setting will work with us to improve and enhance the care.âÄù
As Devin Ingram sat in his new room watching a movie on an enormous LCD TV, his parents listed the benefits of the facility that theyâÄôre sure to see more of in the coming years: a refrigerator and an extra pull-out bed in each room, more cupboard space and a washer and dryer on the premises.
Every room has just one patient, which gives the Ingrams privacy and some peace of mind.
âÄúIt seemed like every time we roomed with someone, he would catch something. Now we donâÄôt have to worry about that,âÄù Rochelle Ingram said.
Dr. Joseph Neglia, chairman of the UniversityâÄôs pediatrics department, has been involved with the design and planning of the building for the past several years.
Behind the shiny exterior and state-of-the-art technology, the hospital is focused on creating a positive healing environment for the children and their families, Neglia said.
A small touch-screen monitor hangs at each bedside that allows kids to pick movies or video games, change the roomâÄôs lighting and, if need be, call a nurse.
The hospitalâÄôs 96 private rooms are identical and were designed in conjunction with a team of children and their parents. Each room is 65 percent larger than the nationâÄôs average room.
âÄúIt really is not a standard childrenâÄôs hospital,âÄù Neglia said. âÄúIt will allow them to feel a little more normal in a period of recovery.âÄù
The hospital is named for Dr. Kurt Amplatz, who spent 40 years researching medicine at the University. His daughter Caroline Amplatz donated $50 million toward the hospitalâÄôs construction in 2009 in her fatherâÄôs honor.
Caroline Amplatz, Friedman and Neglia all looked on at the hospitalâÄôs ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday.
As he watched âÄúHow to Train Your Dragon,âÄù Devin Ingram and his family noted their much-improved view. The straight shot to MinneapolisâÄô downtown skyline is far better than the view of a brick wall at the old hospital.
âÄúOr a porta potty,âÄù Devin Ingram added.
âÄúItâÄôs more comfortable, too âÄî more inviting,âÄù Rochelle Ingram said. âÄúIt makes it not as bad to stay in the hospital.âÄù