Hospital is 'amazing'

January 7, 2011
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For Glenn Masty, who managed the construction of the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital for Spectrum Health, the project wasn’t only about the steel, glass and concrete, or the budget and the deadlines, or the logistics of the materials and work crews.

For him, the project was just as much about making sure the hospital’s atmosphere would appeal to the children and families who will fill the building with their hopes for healthier lives. “I think everything in the building is pretty amazing,” said Masty. “It’s just an amazing building for kids.”

Masty said it was gratifying for him to see the reaction of kids who toured the building. “They did not feel they were in a hospital. They felt they were in a caring place,” he said.

One favorite element for Masty is the podium outside the first floor that sits two stories above Bostwick Avenue. It’s full of trees and bushes. It also has artificial turf and contains plenty of playthings to keep the kids busy and take their minds off why they’re there.

Masty said another appealing aspect for him is the PlayMotion interactive wall. It has four different projected schemes right now, but a nearly endless number can be added. PlayMotion has been described as sort of a Wii without the controllers. Motion is generated by physical movements of someone standing in front of it, such as arm waving.

Masty said when they were deciding which schemes to install, he brought some young patients in to get their takes on what they’d like. One young girl, a cancer patient about 4 years old, told Masty that she really liked the animation with jellyfish that swam across the wall. Some at the hospital had felt the jellyfish might be too intense for the youngest children, but Masty said she wasn’t intimidated by it.

“I said OK, that’s good, and we bought that one. … She could have picked from 11 (schemes) but that’s the one she picked,” he said.

“We did a lot of things like that throughout the building. We dealt with a lot of patients, staff and family. They came in and told us things that I wouldn’t have known, and we did some build-outs — total build-outs,” he added.

Masty said every patient room — and there are 206 beds in the hospital — was modified based on comments he received from patients and their families, the nursing staff and physicians.

“Every room now has those modifications in to make sure that it was the best that we could do for the patients,” he said. “That’s the stuff that I think is so cool.”

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