Landing gear

“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask, “What if I fall?”
Oh, but my darling,
What if you fly?”
~Erin Hanson

Wall of flight in Dayton Children’s new patient tower.

“Recalculating” is not the command you want to hear while you’re making a major life change.

Or when you’ve been driving for nine hours on an interstate riddled with seemingly permanent orange cones and your copilots are a 95-pound Golden Retriever and an 11-month-old baby, both with a tendency to drool.

But – thanks to one stubborn GPS narrator – that’s how my life as a new resident of the Gem City began.

We did (finally) locate our apartment that night; it was an emergency trip to Dayton Children’s Hospital a week later, though, that helped us find our bearings.

It is a generally understood law of the universe that if you have just relocated cities by 300 miles, your child will spike a high fever before you’ve secured a pediatrician. (And said fever will appear at approximately 4:59 p.m. On a Friday. When it’s raining.) The first result in a Google search for pediatric urgent care directed us to Dayton Children’s.

I don’t remember how long we waited, what movie was playing on the lobby television, or how many other families were consoling tired children. I don’t remember what my son’s temperature was, or what I was wearing, or what car we took to get there. What I recall is the doctor who treated my son’s ear infection – and, in the process, allowed me to heal, too.

I came to Dayton for the potential of a new job and its proximity to my Tennessee roots, but in many ways, I came to Dayton to center myself after living in the fog of a community hardened by perpetual winter and declining industry. For my husband and I, moving to southwest Ohio – knowing only each other and nothing about the region save for what we’d seen on a recurring Weather Channel special about the 1973 Xenia tornado – was truly a leap.

My husband & oldest son before his second tympanostomy (aka “ear tube”) surgery at Dayton Children’s Hospital.

I don’t remember the doctor’s name; but I remember her kindness. I remember how I involuntarily smiled when I heard her Kentucky accent, how I nodded when she said she knew no one in Dayton when she landed here, how I was comforted when she mentioned her young daughter, who was just a few weeks younger than my own. I remember her favorite color was blue and that she loved Halloween and – as she scribbled her cell number and a “Call me any time!” on a prescription notepad – that she understood what it is to be somewhat unmoored, but in exactly the right place, all at the same time.

She could have berated us for traveling with a sick 11-month-old or rolled her eyes at our first-time-parent selves for utilizing urgent care for a mundane ear infection. Instead, she reassured us that all three of us were in exactly the right place.

And, indeed, we are.

 

Click HERE to see some of my favorite elements of Dayton Children’s new patient tower. If you’re in the Miami Valley, be sure to check it out in person at their Community Open House, June 11, 1-4 p.m.

Note: This post was written as part of Dayton Children’s new patient tower grand opening, for which participating bloggers received complimentary tours and a few hospital goodies. All thoughts and opinions (and genetically problematic ears) described here are my own.

Above and beyond

Two milestones occurred this week: one of my city’s longtime institutions, Dayton Children’s Hospital, held its grand opening of a new, state-of-the-art patient tower; and I was officially called a “mommy blogger.”

I’m thrilled about the former; still processing the latter.

As a supporter of Dayton Children’s from almost the moment I arrived in the Gem City (read our story HERE), when a call went out to help elevate the conversation around their new building, my hashtag-loving heart responded. In the grand opening program, hospital staff said they wanted to create a space worthy of the children of the Dayton region. It shows.

Here are my favorite highlights from Monday’s tours.

Not your mama’s hospital gift shop

I never thought about how much gift shop purchases help fund hospital services, so I love that they’ve emphasized that. Also — this is seriously not yo mama’s hospital gift shop. This can only be described as a whimsical boutique. They have some seriously cute stuff! It’s not just bibs and balloons.

Snazzy technology

The amount of thought, research, and discussion with staff and patient families that went into this new tower is evident and impressive. Every corner resonates intentionality and a desire to, as they explained in the opening program, always be reaching for the stars for kids close to home:

  • Computer keyboards in the patient rooms are — wait for it — dishwasher safe. (I need these in my life)
  • There are separate parent/guest TV’s in each room (for everyone who has a limit on how many times they can hear Mickey and crew sing “Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog.” Which is all of us.)
  • Dedicated space for both a NICU milk bank and lactation rooms for employees. YES YES and YES. I had an oversupply with my second son and loved the idea of supporting other moms in this way, and for all of us who have pumped in closets/bathrooms/cars/open cubicles — praise hands.
  • Disinfecting UV-light robots (umm, what?! I need to know how to install one of these in my house. #boymom)

Innovation top to bottom

I LOVED the soft rooftop play area. Clearly a safe and secure structure, it will give patients, staff, families, and visitors a chance to get a literal breath of fresh air and run out some energy while still remaining close to hospital rooms. And I love the innovative spirit here — most people would have overlooked the potential in this space instead of asking, “What can we do with it?”

Run, jump, play

There are people who appreciate kids; then there are people who understand kids. Dayton Children’s has installed interactive spaces throughout the hospital, acknowledging that kids are always curious, imaginative, and in motion. From the custom-built Windtunnel leading into the gift shop to the accessible hands-on Dragonflyer (you can move the wings and change the colors!), these are the little details that help families focus on individual moments even in the midst of difficulty. You know you have a gem in your backyard when you see a children’s hospital and immediately want to bring your kids in to experience it. (Come on — who wouldn’t want to measure their wingspan?)

Note: This post was written as part of Dayton Children’s new patient tower grand opening, for which participating bloggers received complimentary tours and a few hospital goodies. All thoughts and opinions described here are my own. If you’re in the Miami Valley, check it out for yourself at their Community Open House, June 11, 1-4 p.m.