BOSTON HEIGHTS — One of the most striking features in the second-floor primary care waiting area of Akron Children’s Hospital’s newest health center is a large circular window looking down over the building’s vestibule and out through another window to the parking lot.
Children visiting during a recent open house certainly noticed it.
"The kids just loved looking out. It was just a magnet. You can still see some fingerprints," said Holly Pupino, the hospital’s senior corporate communications specialist.
The 43,000-square-foot, $14.9 million Cynthia Parker Matthews Building is set to open at 328 East Hines Hills Road, just east of Route 8, with urgent care operations starting Monday and primary, specialty and rehabilitation care services starting the next day.
"The health center is a perfect location for so many of our patients in northern Summit and southern Cuyahoga Counties," said Grace Wakulchik, president and CEO of Akron Children’s Hospital. "This facility will offer essential services in one address, with easy way finding and free parking, As we design these centers, we have families in mind in every way, from easy check-in to large exam rooms and child-friendly decor."
The building is named in recognition of a $2 million gift from the Hudson-based Cynthia Parker Matthews Family Foundation.
Windows, not just the ones in the primary care waiting room, can be seen throughout,and they are an important aspect in the building’s functioning.
"One of the design features of this facility is really to try and pull in as much natural light and views of the [Cuyahoga] valley as possible," said Brian Lapolla, hospital facilities, construction and public safety executive director. "So you can see in all the visiting areas, the outer clinic areas and even the exam rooms we’re really trying to filter as much natural light into the facility as we can. And we know that improves patient health care and outcomes when you have the connectivity to the outside."
The hospital partnered in the building’s construction with the family-owned Testa Companies, a Cuyahoga Falls-based developer that includes Testa Medical Development Group. Lisa Aurilio, the hospital’s chief operating officer, said the hospital leases the facility from Testa, but will eventually own it.
"They have actually generously agreed to donate this building back to the hospital at the end of the initial 30-year lease, so we are indebted to the family for supporting us that way," she said.
Lapolla said the village was also helpful.
"Mayor [Bill] Goncy here in Boston Heights has really been supportive in everything we tried to do," he said.
The primary care section will be the latest in the hospital’s network of 29 pediatric primary care offices offering services including checkups, immunizations and coordination of care in complex medical cases. Dr. Kimberly Masterson, one of three pediatricians staffing the office, along with nurse practitioners, pediatric nurses and behavioral health specialists, estimated the office alone will see about 70 infants to teen patients daily.
"The three of us are all experienced physicians starting a new practice so we’ll have a lot of our old patients hopefully following us," said Masterson, who is moving from the hospital’s Twinsburg primary care office.
Call 330-342-6700 for an appointment.
The urgent care section is for treatment of minor injuries and common illnesses, such as nausea, earache, coughs and fevers. Hours are 2 to 9:30 p.m. Mondays to Fridays and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
The service is moving from its current location on Hudson Drive in Hudson and its diagnostic services include onsite radiology and lab testing.
The specialty care section will have specialists in 13 areas, including allergy/immunology; endocrinology; ear, nose and throat; cardiology; dermatology; gastroenterology; neurology; orthopedics; plastics and reconstructive surgery; pulmonology; rheumatology; sports medicine; and urology, with diagnostic tools including cardiac ultrasound, x-rays, echocardiography, EKG and a soundproof audiology booth.
Rehabilitative services include physical, occupational and speech therapists, with onsite developmental and sports rehab gyms.
Aurilio said facility staff are experienced using methods specifically designed for working with children, such as the use of interactive screens and toys in the audiology booth, allowing parents to hold and comfort their children when blood is drawn and designing rehab programs, including using toys and bicycles, with children in mind.
"Our therapists are really trained in how can they incorporate play into that thereapy," she said. "So while they think they’re really playing, they’re really stretching that arm out to grab that toy."
She said staff will even bring their own pets in to get into the act.
"We have the kids, ‘If you can get to the dog, you can pet the dog,’ and that’s a great incentive," said Aurilio.
Decor in the facility includes art works commissioned from local students as well as photographs that hospital public relations staff took in the nearby Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
The facility is designed for long-term use, including with the eventuality of growth. The building includes shell space, areas that are empty and can be configured as needed, and available space can even be expanded beyond that if necessary.
"We know what we need today," said Lapolla. "We’re always planning for the future so we’ve looked at the data out through 2025 so that we knew we had enough room in this facility if we needed to grow from within," he said. "There’s also the ability to expand the facility perhaps for the future if we decide we want to do that. We’re trying to be as flexible and adaptable as possible."
Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at 330-541-9431, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JeffSaunders_RP.