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Dance Marathon continues new Children's Hospital pledge

BY GABRIELLA DUNN | JANUARY 29, 2014 5:00 AM

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Caring for children with cancer brings unique patient and family needs that the new University of Iowa Children’s Hospital aims to fulfill. These accommodations include larger rooms with space for parents to stay overnight, playrooms for siblings of patients, and an overall playful ambiance. 
With the help of Dance Marathon, all of these amenities will soon be met.

In 2011, Dance Marathon made a 10-year pledge for $5 million to the new Children’s Hospital, set to open in 2015. The pledge is the largest donation the Dance Marathon has made in its past 20 years of fundraising. With the groundbreaking of the new Children’s Hospital, this year signifies another milestone for the donation.

Taylor McKee, Dance Marathon media relation’s head, said the new hospital is going to encapsulate everything that Dance Marathon has been working toward and will serve as a physical reminder of the Dance Marathon’s accomplishments.

“Having a child go through such a traumatic and difficult experience, it’s hard in general, so we’re trying to make a comfortable place for them to do it,” she said.

When planning the logistics of the building, input from patients and families diagnosed with cancer was a vital aspect.

Kyle Walters, coordinator for the UI Dance Marathon in the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, said the new hospital is going to be highly specific to the needs of pediatric patients and families.

“Dance Marathon truly cares about all aspects of a child being diagnosed with cancer and this is just a larger piece of the puzzle,” he said. “It will be a really amazing building and a visual reminder of the impact students have at The University of Iowa.”

The UI is the only medical center of the top 25 children hospitals in the country without its own freestanding building.

“They’re trying to make it really inclusive so everyone in the family has a place to go,” she said. “… To make children feel more at ease in their treatment and make the parents feel more comfortable with their families. And it won’t be such a stark hospital setting.”

According to the Children’s Hospital, the project is anticipated to cost approximately $292 million and will be funded through bonds, patient revenue, and private gifts, including Dance Marathon’s $5 million pledge — no tax dollars will be used.

Approximately 480,000 square feet of the building will be new construction, with an additional 56,250 square feet of renovated existing space.

The building will be 14 stories, with 12 above ground and two below. The 11th floor will be named the University of Iowa Dance Marathon Pediatric Cancer Center and will provide a patient view into Kinnick Stadium.

Jody Kurtt, the director of nursing and patient-care services at the Children’s Hospital said the state-of-the-art building is going to contribute to a more cohesive health-care environment.

“Caring for children is different from caring for adults,” she said. “Everything from their medication to the facility itself … It will help us to grow and strengthen our services so we’ll have the capacity to build upon some of the services we have now.”

In addition to strengthening the health care, officials hope to expand their health care in a broader effort throughout the state.

“The whole intent of the new UI Children’s Hospital is not just to create a building that is located in Iowa City, it is to create a system of care that will serve the entire state,” UI spokesman Tom Moore said.

Moore said working closely with health providers in other communities can allow the Children’s Hospital to provide the best pediatric care possible without needing their patients to be in Iowa City for more extended periods of time than needed.

“Dance Marathon is an incredible student organization, and I think it contributes a lot to us, not just in money, but it helps us be a better Children’s Hospital,” Kurtt said. “It’s a very meaningful partnership, and I think our Children’s Hospital benefits greatly from them, and I hope that we give as much back to them as they give to us.”


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