Nationwide Children's Hospital Expansion Update

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

This morning, we got another sneak peek at how things are progressing with the Nationwide Children's Hospital expansion project. You may recall last December we got to see the mock rooms they were experimenting with in an old Kroger warehouse, just to come up with most efficient and innovative ways to make patients' and their families' experiences at NCH as comfortable and healing as possible.

Today we found out that everything is on time and on budget for a June 2012 opening (that's pretty amazing in and of itself - construction projects are never on time or on budget). And the 10-month countdown has begun on that opening.

One of the details that really intrigued is the "Magic Forest." It's just beyond cool: A two-story tall indoor forest, complete with 8-feet tall carved wooden animals. On our Facebook page earlier today, we showed you artist Al Parkinson, who is working with The Carousel Works up in Mansfield to create nine different types of "animal friends," 18 in all, who will inhabit this Magic Forest and pop up in patient wards throughout the hospital. Parkinson was demonstrating his craft on a piece of bass wood that is one-quarter the size of one of the finished snails.

The theory behind bringing nature inside, explained Nationwide Children's board chairwoman Abigail Wexner, is that it "relieves stress in a therapeutic way." And there were so many other thoughtful, lovely details like this Magic Forest that are going into the project: underground parking for patients' families, trundle beds for parents so they can room in with their children, six acres of reclaimed green space around the hospital campus, and much more.

They also unveiled a new logo (complete with four types of Ohio-native butterflies) and we got a hot tip that you can keep up on all the behind-the-scenes details of the expansion project via the "Little Things" blog. It's a very enjoyable read.