Extensive growth along the Front Range conjures images of traffic and congestion for many, but there are positive additions that come with these growing pains.

The Pikes Peak region population has reached a point where it can support a dedicated pediatric hospital, according to Greg Raymond, Chief Operating Officer for Children’s Hospital Colorado, which is planning to fill that spot later this year. Raymond also said there are now more than 50 pediatric specialists in southern Colorado who can provide expertise needed for the specialized facility.

While construction was completed this spring on a new hospital in northern Colorado Springs, it is not yet open, though it is expected to be fully operational in mid-2019. Over the coming weeks and months, Children’s will set up the building with pediatric equipment and supplies and move in team members, who will undergo multiple tiers of training.

Children’s Colorado leaders provided a sneak peek of the structure during a tour Thursday, highlighting the features of the region’s first pediatric-only hospital with 294,000 state-of-the-art square feet devoted to helping kids heal. Located in Briargate, right next to Memorial Hospital North, the hospital offers a number of pediatric-only firsts for southern Colorado, including an emergency department, epilepsy monitoring unit and operating room suites.

Raymond began the tour by highlighting that the hospital is designed with a color scheme that promotes healing for children. An atrium near the entrance was bright, lined with large windows and enhanced by a Sibling Creative Play Center where parents can leave their children under supervised care while they visit patients.

The main entrance is on the south side of the building. Improving on the design of other pediatric hospitals and to avoid confusion, there is a separate entrance for the Emergency Department (ED) on the second level, with ambulance and helicopter access. The ED houses a pediatric behavioral unit, with six rooms designed to take kids from an escalated state to a de-escalated state so physicians can more accurately determine the best behavioral or medical treatments. The ED also houses 33 exam rooms and a decontamination room for dealing with issues like fuel spills.

The full radiology suite provides imaging for MRI, CT, plain film imaging, ultrasound and fluoroscopy. A pharmacy is also onsite. The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, on the fifth floor, has eight private infusion rooms, four infusion bays and six exam rooms. The design preserved rooms with the best views for the infusions.

“Sometimes kids may be getting infusions for eight to ten hours, so the windows are perfectly framed for views of Pikes Peak,” Raymond said. Child Life Specialists will be on hand to help kids through infusions, followed by some fun in a play area. A Pet Prescription Program also provides therapy dogs for patients who need encouragement or affection.

The third floor houses the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with 50 beds and a direct connection to the Memorial North building so newborns can be walked immediately to the NICU. Each room has a restroom and three zones for the provider, patient and family. There are two rooms set up for twins and one for triplets. The NICU is equipped with special flooring to limit sound disturbances for the snoozing newborns, and also features a baby “cafeteria,” offering milk and scientific formulas and a place for mothers to store breast milk.

The surgical center houses eight operating rooms, 33 private recovery beds and five extended stay beds, in addition to waiting, pre-surgery and recovery areas. A specialized cabinet area houses all the computer equipment and is equipped with an exhaust system to disperse heat.

GE Johnson broke ground on the hospital’s construction in June 2017. Since then, a new child ambassador has been selected every three months to tour the site and serve as a motivational speaker for the construction crews, sharing stories about how they will benefit from the new facility. Joining last week’s tour was the very first “Kid of the Quarter,” cardiac patient Lauren Schwamb and her mom, Cristi.

“This helps us tie our work to the mission of the hospital,” said Jim Jansen, senior project manager for GE Johnson.