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Children's Hospital to rehearse choreographed move

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Sunday, Feb. 15, 2009

The move is on.

In preparation for the May transfer to its Lawrenceville campus, Children's Hospital officials this week will conduct a carefully orchestrated drill, complete with mannequins to simulate patients.

"Eveybody's in full gear," said Eric Hess, vice president and project executive in charge of the move. "The game's on."

Saturday's mock move follows more than two years of preparation involving hundreds of workers. Officials have planned the move's details, from moving a filing cabinet to buying heart monitors that will await some critically ill patients upon arrival.

They have set up a command center across the street from the Oakland hospital, where they analyzed traffic patterns expected to occur on moving day.

The Oakland campus will kick off the first phase of the move the last week of April, when ambulatory services will be transferred to Lawrenceville. Patients with doctors' appointments that week will go to the new campus.

The big day is May 2. At 6 a.m., the emergency department in Oakland will stop seeing patients. Those who arrive before then will remain in Oakland, but ambulance services have been told to start taking cases to Lawrenceville after 6 o'clock, Hess said.

Perhaps the most nerve-wracking aspect of the move will involve transporting the 150 or so hospitalized patients, which must be done in one day.

"You never hold the Super Bowl one day and then hold it again the next week," Hess said.

Under the direction of Jennifer Iagnemma, patients have been split into two groups and will be tagged in different colors: red for those in critical care units and blue for those on other patient floors, such as the cancer unit.

The transport of patients will start at 6 a.m. May 2. Escorted by a nurse, red patients will use different elevators and exits from those tagged in blue.

"Our goal is to safely get these kids across town," said Iagnemma, a registered nurse with about 20 years of management experience at Children's.

The hospital drummed up support from community ambulance services to provide 22 ambulances for acute care patients. Guardian Angel Ambulance Service will transport critically ill patients.

They will all use the same 2.5 mile route, leaving fromthe hospital on O'Hara Street and passing through Bloomfield to end up at the intersection of Penn Avenue and 44th Street, the location of the new hospital.

When they arrive in Lawrenceville, they will use different entrances.

To ensure the move occurs smoothly, officials are planning mandatory training sessions for all 3,000-plus employees at Children's.

Since plans for the hospital began in 2001, Hess has spent most of his time at work crafting policies and making sure necessary medical equipment is delivered on time to the Lawrenceville campus. He knows virtually every corner of the new campus. To prepare, Hess and others traveled to Children's Hospitals in Colorado and California undergoing similar moves.

Hess struck a deal with General Electric to provide several cardiac monitors for ICUs at no cost. That means he wouldn't have to worry about transporting such a crucial piece of equipment from Oakland. He estimates the new hospital has about $75 million in new equipment, including MRI machines and CT scans. Some equipment will move from Oakland.

"If it's movable and in good shape, we're moving it to the new campus," Hess said.




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