When Tucsonan Colin Easom's 3-year-old daughter was in and out of the University Medical Center for four months battling cancer, the stay was less than pleasant.
Besides the chemotherapy, which made his daughter throw up, the family had no privacy and little sleep because they were forced to share their room with another patient.
""I remember one night in the hospital when we were woken at 1 a.m. because someone else was being admitted,"" Easom, 39, said. ""Private rooms would have been amazing.""
This overcrowding at the UMC is of the main reasons for the new Diamond Children's Medical Center, according to the associate head of the department of pediatrics and chief of pediatric critical care Andreas Theodorou.
The new center will offer 116 private rooms, multiple play rooms, a meditation room and healing garden among other features designed to make hospital stays more comfortable for children and their families.
In less than two months since it opened, the Diamond Children's Pediatric Emergency Department, has seen a steady growth in the number of children being treated.
Children comprise roughly 20 percent of all emergency patients at the UMC, according to UMC spokeswoman Katie Riley.
The director of pediatric emergency, Dale Woolridge, said the transition to the
new children's emergency center has gone ""amazingly well.""
""I anticipated this would open, then the information that it opened would
disseminate slowly,"" he said. ""But it was like night and day. It has been amazing how readily the community has embraced us so far,"" he said.
The center is part of a $185 million six-story building expansion project at the UMC that will open in stages and is expected to be completed in the spring of 2010.
The center is named after the Diamond family who have donated $15 million to
help build the center, according to major gifts officer for the UMC foundation,
""This has been a dream for Tucson for a long time,"" said Vicki Began, vice
president of women and children's services at the UMC. ""We need a facility to
take care of children and give them the space they need.""
Theodorou said that another advantage to building the facility is attracting
more pediatric doctors and nurses.
""The combination of the clinical side of Diamond Children's and the research side of Steele (Children's Research Center) gives us a very high level children's facility,"" he said.
After the UMC gave Associated Students of the University of Arizona executives a tour of the facility, ASUA decided to narrow their charity focus to one organization this year by naming the center as their charity partner.
With the help of the UMC, Easom's daughter, now six, celebrated three years of remission in July.
Still he's hopeful the new hospital will make other patients' stay more comfortable.
""When kids see a café just for them and playground just for them I think that helps their recovery and gives them a morale boost,"" Easom added. ""I think just that sheer feeling of being taken care of speeds their recovery.""