It has been five years in the making. On Monday, the 60-acre, 360,000-square-foot Nemours Children's Hospital finally opened its doors, and it is expected to revolutionize intensive pediatric care for the children of Central Florida.
Ten-year-old Alyssa Vasquez was one of the first patients to walk through the doors of the brand-new facility. She and her mother traveled all the way from Savannah, Georgia to see Dr. Steven Frick, a published and nationally-recognized pediatric orthopedic surgeon. Alyssa is seeking treatment to care for a rare condition called congenital leg length discrepancy.
"It's exciting, because the cutting edge everything is at a brand new hospital," said mom Amy Vasquez. "So we're excited about it."
And it's not just the physicians who have made Nemours Children's Hospital unique. Hospital officials said parents and children had input in the design of the facility, from the design of the atrium and lobby, to the hospital rooms. It's an environment that is meant to feel like a second home for these children.
"The nurses take good care of you," said Alyssa. "It's fun, and you don't feel scared."
Hospital officials said doctors will not only be treating patients, but many will also be conducting research at on-site laboratories, in hopes of finding cures to prevent acute and rare diseases, disorders, and other conditions.
"We also focused on physicians that had not only a passion for their particular area of expertise in taking care of children, but also blending that with research," said Chief Executive Officer of Nemours Children's Hospital Roger Oxendale.
Staff and doctors at Nemours wasted no time caring for patients, having scheduled seven surgeries scheduled for Monday and over a dozen more planned throughout their opening week.
The hospital cost an estimated $397 million to build and will employ close to 900 people. No tax money went toward construction or purchase of the land.