Project category: New construction (completed February 2012)

Chief administrator: Maria Zampini, Director of Guest Services, (915) 521-7671

Firms: CAMA, Incorporated, (203) 777-9921; KMD Architects, (415) 398-5191

Design team: Leonard Nordell, Local Architect (Moore Nordell Kroeger Architects); Bogue Waller, Lighting Consultants and Engineers (Mazzetti Nash Lipsey Burch); Bernie Babendure, Signage Consultant (Babendure Design Group); Bruce Jett, Landscape Architect (Bruce Jett Associates); Todd Lehman, Custom Play Environment (cre8play); Construction Manager (Robbins and Morton)

Photography: Blakely Photography; CAMA, Incorporated

Total building area (sq. ft.): 220,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $100

Total construction cost (excluding land): $22,000,000

Through the Eyes of a Child

In 2012, El Paso Children’s opened its doors and become the first separately licensed children’s hospital in the community. The facility combines services for adults, women and children into one eleven-story building with two distinct entrances and circulation systems.  The Children’s Hospital occupies the upper five floors of a new patient tower and includes 50 neonatal intensive care beds, 12 pediatric intensive care beds, and 78 pediatric beds, all conveniently located above Women and Infant services.

KMD|CAMA and their interdisciplinary team worked closely with the Children’s Hospital Planning and Development committees, kicking off an evidence-based design process with site visits to reputable children’s hospitals. The tours informed the team of “best practices” and were followed by a series of visioning workshops engaging nurses, physicians, pediatric patients, and their families reviewing baseline knowledge and design interventions that would fulfill the project’s strategic outcomes.

The interior design of the building compliments and contrasts the palette of the high desert.  Familiar to the culture of El Paso a vivid palette of bright colors for the children’s hospital and of jewel tones for the adult floors was used.  The project addressed the need for efficient/effective care delivery with distributed care stations and a family-centered culture of care providing single-bedded rooms with ample family accommodations, areas of gathering outside of the patient room and at the lobby level in the area dubbed “la Plaza”.   Though patient rooms for children have become larger and more accommodating for families and staff, are filled with daylight and expansive views, and have many smart and safe features- they still require elements that capture the child’s imagination.  Studies have shown that positive distractions reduce feelings of pain, and that the more immersive the environment, the greater the pain reduction.  The custom designed footwall in each patient room has a desk surface, a bench seat and storage drawer, a TV monitor, and a white board for messaging or posting cards or artwork. Its unique canopy of illuminated stars inspires sweet dreams as well as an immersive focal point for diversion from daily activities.

The project’s modest budget allowed the design team to work closely with the community, hospital leaders and its Foundation augmenting relatively standard finishes with a healing art programs. The selection of regional healing art is also evidenced-based and purchased through the generous donations of the citizens of this a military/border town.