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At new Lurie Children’s Hospital, ‘back to just taking care of kids’

Updated: July 18, 2012 6:36AM

A sick child in need of an organ at the newly opened Lurie Children’s Hospital got express delivery this week.

With a live donor at nearby Northwestern Memorial Hospital, a transport team used Lurie’s fifth floor bridge to carry over the harvested organ.

And new mothers at Prentice Women’s Hospital at Northwestern also got an added bonus: traveling over the bridge to visit their sick newborns at Lurie.

Week one is over for the staff and patients at the Streeterville hospital, which safely transported 126 patients from its now shuttered Lincoln Park hospital on June 9.

Nearly 15,000 boxes were relocated; about 4,700 pieces of medical equipment were moved. And more than 1,200 computers and printers were brought over.

Less than 12 hours after the move, Dr. Tord Alden was performing an emergency brain surgery in one of the new operating rooms.

Within four hours, the neurosurgeon successfully removed a brain tumor affecting a boy’s vision.

Alden was the first to use Lurie’s operating rooms. At first, he says, things looked a bit different. But when the boy came in, everything snapped into place.

“As soon as I saw him, the newness [of the hospital] went away,” Alden said. “It was back to what we’ve been doing for a long time, just taking care of kids.”

The patient count is up to 200. That was the max at the old hospital due to bed limitations and the risk of spreading infectious diseases, Lurie Chief Nurse Executive Michelle Stephenson said.

Now, with 288 patient rooms, there’s plenty of room for more.

Staff used the hospital’s new helipad on Wednesday for a child involved in a trauma some distance away.

“We had a lot of firsts this week,” Stephenson said. “ The big one is definitely putting that helipad to use.”

Hospital staff and patients are still transitioning, she said. Some patients and their families are getting lost in the 23-story building. But volunteers are still around to usher them to the proper floor.

Hospital staff rushing to get to patients are using the stairs, and staff pedometers are a hit. One staff member said he’d walked 10 miles in one shift. And a nurse said she’s lost 2-1/2 pounds from taking the stairs this week.

Alden might also be losing weight soon. He lives nearby and walks to work. Earlier this week, just after he fired up the grill, he was rushed back to the hospital for an emergency surgery. “I think I may lose weight too because I’ll just be coming back and forth from home so frequently,” he said.

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