'Not Just Another Building': New Dodson Specialty Clinics Expansion Designed With Patients, Families Input
"It’s not about another building. It’s about being there for the children," said Stan Davis, Chief Operating Officer of Cook Children’s Medical Center. The expansion is designed to make visits to the specialty clinics easier and more convenient.
By Heather Duge
The newly constructed expansion to the Dodson Specialty Clinics opens its doors Monday, March 20. This 240,000-square-foot expansion adds more space for patient families and providers and brings six additional specialties together under one roof.
On March 20, the Dodson Surgery Center, Dodson Central Registration and Dodson Sterile Processing will move. Periodically through June, other specialty clinics will move to new locations in Dodson Specialty Clinics.
When patient families walk through the doors of the newly expanded Dodson Specialty Clinics, Stan Davis, Chief Operating Officer of Cook Children’s Medical Center, hopes they feel valued.
“Most of the patients who come here have repeating needs and we are building a lifelong relationship with them and their families,” Davis said. “After many focus groups to understand our patient families’ desires and needs for this space, I hope they feel that we heard them.”
Cindi Coker who has been visiting Cook Children’s for 20 years, already feels heard. Cindi’s son, Clayton, has complex medical needs so she knows firsthand the features that make visits to the hospital easier for patient families. From working with Security on the handicapped parking layout to advocating for a café and companion care restrooms for the older kids, Cindi has provided invaluable input.
“It speaks volumes that Cook Children’s is taking the patient experience to the next level,” Cindi said. “It means a lot to us.”
Veronica Tolley, vice president of Primary and Specialty Services at Cook Children’s, is looking forward to watching the patient families enjoy the new features. “The feedback we’ve heard for years is coming to life and will be evident in their experience,” Tolley said.
All Services Under One Roof
A lack of space for new practices on campus matched with the exponential growth of physicians, teams and patients led to the vision of the expanded Dodson Specialty Clinics.
“Many subspecialty groups came into existence after the original Dodson space was built,” Tolley said. “This building is a testament to not only adding new services but every existing service growing.”
Now all services will be under one roof – a welcome improvement for many patient families such as those who visit Urology. Instead of having to park twice and walk across an intersection in one day, families will now access Urology and Radiology in the same building.
Spencer Seals, vice president of Construction, Real Estate and Facility Planning, has been involved with every aspect of planning since its inception.
“There is nothing more frustrating to a patient family than to go different places for services,” Seals said. “That is the reality for the vast majority of our families and now with a consolidation of clinics in a hub, they will have everything they need.”
Not only were patient families surveyed but employees, too. A survey of staff asked them about top priorities which resulted in features such as food options and access to natural light.
Seeing the Building Through a Patient’s Eyes
Kim Arnold, space utilization and transition manager, led the team that collaborated with Patient Family Services to simulate the patient experience throughout Dodson Specialty Clinics from beginning to end. Patient families walked into the building and interacted with staff just as they would on a typical visit.
“The transition and patient simulations are focused on getting in front of and being prepared for change,” Arnold said. “Executing over 90 simulations helped us understand what it feels like to navigate this new building through a patient family’s eyes. We are transitioning existing and new clinics and services each week within the Dodson footprint. This is a steady change and staff is working diligently to be ready. Their involvement in the simulations was essential for success.”
The unique features of Dodson will include highlights such as a state-of-the-art parking garage with an advanced guidance system and many upgrades; Peaks Tech Zone where patients and families will learn how to use new medical equipment and sync their Cook Children’s apps; the Dodson Pharmacy for families to pick up prescriptions and staff members to purchase over the counter medications; an outpatient lab conveniently located on the first floor; Jane and John Justin Institute for Mind Health at Cook Children’s Medical Center – Fort Worth involving nine brain-related specialties on one floor and a Complex Care Clinic. Companion care restrooms are also available in the common areas on every floor. It doesn’t stop there. Extra space has been allocated for future programs.
“Our desire is that patients don’t have to go elsewhere to get care,” Davis said. “We are already planning for future growth.”
Not Just Another Building
For Seals who has three kids of his own, making the hospital experience an enjoyable one has always been top of mind.
“How the kids and families feel permeates everything we do,” Seals said. “I hope they see the fun in all of it and feel that the care is second to none. World-class care starts with world-class spaces and it’s my job to connect those by giving our employees the right type of space and tools to do what they do best.”
All of the child-friendly features throughout the building help kids to engage and decrease stress and anxiety. Spencer said as kids are more comfortable, parents feel that way too and it creates a better healing environment.
Stephanie Tunell couldn’t agree more. Two of her children are patients at Cook Children’s and her youngest who was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and a variant of DiGeorge Syndrome visits 10 different clinics.
“The new building is so bright and whimsical,” Tunell said. “I know children will be excited to experience the castle atmosphere and find all of the hidden gems as they journey through the building.”
“The new space is a reflection of our Promise – everything for the child,” Davis said. “It’s not about another building; it’s about being there for the children.”
A Champion for Children
The Dodson Specialty Clinics Expansion would not be possible without Clarabele “Pit” Dodson and her late husband T.L. Dodson Jr. whose generous gift built the original Dodson building. Pit learned the art of giving from her parents, who instilled in her the importance of taking care of others from an early age.
A 1989 tour of Cook Children’s ignited the couple’s passion for the health care system. Together they began pouring their time, love and generosity into the organization.
“When you think about the generosity of Pit Dodson, you have to think about all the kids she’s helped up to this point but also the generations of kids in the future,” Stan Davis said. “Yes, Pit has given us so much through her generous donations, but just as importantly Pit has given us her time and her heart. She’s a part of Cook Children’s that will last forever.”