ANN ARBOR — As the last patient cleared a designated 800-foot patient pathway, staff, faculty and volunteers broke into cheers, tears and many, many hugs.
Years in the making, the much anticipated Move Day came to a close much earlier than anyone imagined.
Sunday’s move from the now former U-M C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, the Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital and the Adult Bone Marrow Transplant Unit to the new facility began at 7:02 a.m. Sunday with a tiny patient — a baby moving from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
It ended at 3 p.m. with an adult patient, the last of 166, making the journey down a closed, protected pathway into a sparkling new space.
The move was carefully choreographed and rehearsed. The payoff was obvious as the last patient moved hours before anticipated.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Loree Collett, associate hospital administrator and operational lead for the expansion project, who beamed and hugged and congratulated hundreds of staff as the hospital move was completed Sunday. “We planned for every contingency we could imagine and things couldn’t have gone more smoothly.”
Pat Warner, executive director of the two facilities, welcomed patients as they were rolled down the pathway, down to the very last patient, who held her hands up, indicating a victory.
After the last patient came through, Warner sped through the halls, thanking all, from transporters to nurses, to planners, to volunteers and staff. She then hustled to the new facility’s 9th floor — the Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital — to deliver two very special baskets.
One went to the last baby born at the old Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital: a baby girl, Eva Liu, born at 8:45 a.m. to parents Chao Liu and Yang Guo.
The other to the first baby born at the new Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital, Hamza Mahmoudi, born at 8:40 a.m. to Yasmina Debieb and Ali Mahmoudi.
The babies were born five minutes apart and were two of four babies born Sunday.
The most critical patients of the day moved in the morning, starting at 7 a.m. and ending at noon. All reported a smooth journey.
“She handled it like a rock star,” said pediatric cardiothoracic unit nurse Jamie Rose, R.N., of Nora Swift, a 5-month-old from Charlotte, Mich., who was born with a congenital heart defect. “She even looked up and smiled at us.”
Nora was transported while connected to a ventilator and 14 pumps giving her various medicines to control pain and blood pressure and other vitals.
She was dressed like a rock star, too. Mom Katherine Swift outfitted her in a pink and black polka dot dress, her toenails painted pink. Nora has had two surgeries at Mott by Dr. Eric Devaney.
Nora’s mom Katherine said the she felt well-informed and included during the move process.
“The team here has become a second family,” she said, sitting next to her husband Jerry in a room with a view that overlooks what will be a peony garden come spring. “There were no glitches and they were clapping and cheering when we arrived. I can’t imagine what they could have missed.”
Sunday’s move was the culmination of 10 years of planning and five years of construction.
“There have been a lot of 12-hour days leading up to today and the fatigue is just setting in,” said Kelly Parent, Mott’s Patient and Family Centered Care program manager. “We’ve been running on pure adrenaline and excitement about this new space.”
Many parents volunteered on move day and talked one-on-one with patients and families in the days leading up to the move. They also helped create a “passport” with information families would want to know about move day – whether they’d get help with packing up their room, if their belongings would be secure and if breast milk would be safely transferred.
Parent was involved with the planning of the new hospitals from day one and was a link between parents and administrators as the plans for the new hospital came together.
“Parents wanted private rooms and private bathrooms and a bed in the room so they could stay with their child,” she said. “They also wanted a one-stop shop for information and support.”
At 2 p.m., patient Nevaeh Johnson’s room at the new Mott was still and peaceful.
Two weeks ago, the 3-year-old girl had a heart transplant. A pink and purple tutu and matching hat made for her by the PCTU team were crumpled at the bottom of her bed, along with a stack of coloring books.
“Things went smoothly,” said her dad James Johnson, of Mantan, Mich., who sat by her side while she slept.