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American Family Children's Hospital Celebrates Fifth Birthday

American Family Children's Hospital vice president Jeff Poltawsky at the fifth birthday reception.Madison, Wisconsin – Birthdays present opportunities for people to reflect upon how they have spent the years that have passed and establish goals for the years to come. In the case of American Family Children’s Hospital, which celebrated its fifth birthday September 7 with a reception in its lobby, the same holds true for buildings.

“Happy fifth birthday, everybody,” American Family Children’s Hospital vice president Jeff Poltawsky said to a gathering of Children’s Hospital employees, contributors and advocates.

Opened in 2007 with the help of a $10 million flagship gift from American Family Insurance, American Family Children’s Hospital strived for a lofty goal – to provide world-class pediatric specialty care right here in Madison – with design details that were both family-friendly and technologically-advanced, including:

  • Two Children's Hospital employees talk during the reception.Larger patient rooms with sleeper sofas, so parents can sleep in their child’s room
  • Expanded Hospital School rooms and play areas
  • The Kohl's Safety Center, a community resource center where families can buy safety products, such as outlet plugs and bike helmets
  • Telemetry technology that allows children to leave their hospital rooms and have signals from their medical equipment sent directly to their nurses 
  • A bone marrow transplant suite that's specially air-filtered to help keep kids safe from infections 
  • A Positive Image Center to help children deal with the negative effects of illness and treatment – such as scarring or loss of hair and weight changes

Those touches, and the efforts of the hundreds of hospital employees who have contributed their hard work and talent, allowed American Family Children’s Hospital to claim, in UW Hospital and Clinics president and CEO Donna Katen-Bahensky’s words, “a very successful five years .” In 2011 alone the hospital:

  • Admitted 3,500 patients
  • Performed 5,457 surgical procedures
  • Hosted 132,064 clinic and 9,109 emergency room visits
  • Served patients from 69 of 72 Wisconsin counties (and all 72 since its 2007 opening) and 44 of the 50 states (and 49 of 50 states since 2007)
  • Was named a Best Children's Hospital in seven specialties by U.S. News & World Report

“We dreamed big, but our reality is even bigger,” said Poltawsky. “More importantly, we made a tremendous difference in the lives of thousands of children.”

The work is not done. By 2015 the Children’s Hospital’s inpatient volume is expected to increase by 50 percent, and the hospital will have to expand its facilities to be able to continue to treat its young patients. With its Sick Kids Can’t Wait fundraising campaign, American Family Children’s Hospital plans to add:

  • Twenty-six new acute care beds, with 14 beds comprising  a Surgical/High Acuity Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)and 12 more beds expanding the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).
  • A  Pediatric Hybrid Cardiac Catheterization/Operating Room/Interventional Radiology Laboratory for invasive heart and radiological procedures
  •  A Pediatric Imaging Suite for  X-ray/imaging procedures with state of the art, low-dose radiation technology
  • Two more pediatric operating rooms

 “If you look out that window,” said Katen-Bahensky, pointing to the large construction crane looming over the parking lot, “you can see our future. We will be here to take care of Wisconsin’s kids.

In Pictures: The Birthday Celebration


Date Published: 09/07/2012