The newly opened atrium at Wilmington Hospital has the look and feel of a tree-lined, neighborhood street — because it was one just seven years ago.
With a $1 million gift from AstraZeneca, Christiana Care transformed what once was the corner of 14th and Chamberlain streets into a towering atrium filled with tall trees, old-fashioned wrought-iron street lights, gray terrazzo floors reminiscent of city sidewalks and the soothing sounds of a waterfall.
At the dedication July 22, Gov. Jack Markell said that the results are an example what can happen when two world-class organizations — Christiana Care and AstraZeneca — work together to help the people of Delaware.
“I’m confident that by keeping them at the table together as well as so many other stakeholders, we’re going to continue to do what we have to do, which is improve access, reduce cost and improve the quality of care,” Gov. Markell said.
Paul Hudson, president of AstraZeneca U.S., said that improving health is a goal shared by both organizations.
“AstraZeneca is dedicated to building strong, healthy communities across the state of Delaware and nationwide,” Hudson said. “Christiana Care shares in this commitment, and we’re pleased to support the expansion of its outstanding hospital system, which supports a patient-centered culture and delivers critical health resources to our community every day.”
He said he looks forward to the next chapter in AstraZeneca’s relationship with Christiana Care.
Christiana Care board chair Gary M. Pfeiffer said that the beautiful new facility is reflective of the expert, compassionate care that happens within.
“For all of you who helped to make this happen, I say thank you,” Pfeiffer said. “For any of you who have had the experience of having yourself or a loved one or a neighbor cared for at Wilmington Hospital, you know that the people who work here are extraordinarily dedicated. They are talented, and they are committed to making sure that everyone has the right experience when they’re in Wilmington.”
“We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what aspects will contribute to the healing process,” said Edmondo Robinson, M.D., physican-in-chief, Wilmington Hospital, and associate chief medical officer. “Investing in the aesthetic is very important. It’s a great open space for both patients and their families, and it’s actually part of the healing process.”
Robinson went on to explain how the design process was informed throughout by The Christiana Care Way, which includes a strong commitment to partner with patients and families in their health.
“The impact of the gift of AstraZeneca cannot be overestimated and will resonate, without a doubt, in the community for a very long time,” said Sharon Kurfuerst, Ed.D, OTR/L, FAOTA, senior vice president of administration at Christiana Care.
The three-story atrium will be the entryway to expanded outpatient services, the First State School, a conference center and a new 51,000-square-foot Gateway medical office building that will allow doctors to practice onsite. Employees and visitors will also welcome the Blue Granite Café, serviced by Au Bon Pain café bakery, on the upper level.
Patrick Fugeman, vice president of design and construction, described how Christiana Care engaged with community partners, including the Brandywine Village Civic Association, throughout the design and construction process, to ensure that the $210 million investment in the city of Wilmington creates value for its neighbors. The design of the atrium is especially reflective of that community focus, as it transformed streets that once crossed the hospital property into an attractive space that neighbors, patients, employees and visitors can enjoy. The atrium opens to the Junior Board Healing Garden, which was dedicated in June.
“A lot of hospitals are leaving the city for the suburbs,” Fugeman said. “Here, we’re taking the opposite approach. We’re improving a strong urban campus to serve the community.”
“The idea is for the space to be attractive for everybody — to put people at the center of all that we do,” said Julie H. Silverstein, M.D., medical director of Wilmington Health Center, which will open in a new space adjacent to the atrium and provide outpatient specialty and primary care services. “It is a visual representation of a lot of the work that’s been done around transforming clinical care and the model of care for our patients.”
Transforming Wilmington Hospital
The redesign and transformation of Christiana Care’s Wilmington Hospital began with construction in 2009. Improvements to Wilmington Hospital include:
- A new main lobby that provides a more accessible and welcoming entrance for patients and visitors.
- An expanded Emergency Department with state-of-the-science treatment rooms to handle complex patient needs.
- An upgraded 30-bed unit for the Center for Advanced Joint Replacement.
- A new intensive care unit.
- 13 larger, technologically advanced operating rooms in the new surgical suite.
Upon completion of the project next spring, the redesigned Wilmington Hospital will have expanded by 337,000 square feet, creating a 1 million-square-foot, state-of-the-science facility including a nine-story tower, an Emergency Department double its current size and a café.
Throughout the construction, Christiana Care’s Wilmington Hospital Campus has remained completely operational, providing full services and care to patients and their loved ones.
The Wilmington Hospital campus has served the community for nearly 125 years, meeting the diverse medical needs of the city and surrounding region.