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Dr. Pate’s Prescription for Change

St. Luke’s Health System’s Journey to Transform Health Care

Idaho Elks Children’s Pavilion taking shape to deliver care ‘our kids deserve’

By Sandra Forester, News and Community
March 5, 2019
David C. Pate MD, JD

Patient-centered care is our aim as physicians and professionals in health care, but can a building and its spaces be patient-centered?

The answer is yes, and St. Luke’s Idaho Elks Children’s Pavilion is a perfect example. Here is Sandra Forester with St. Luke’s Communications & Marketing Department to share an update on this wonderful environment, now in the works, to treat those children of Idaho and surrounding states that we are honored to care for.

- David C. Pate, M.D., J.D.


St. Luke’s neonatal intensive care unit is just what many newborns need to overcome a host of issues, from lung and cardiac disease to neurologic and gastric issues. But St. Luke’s NICU is often just the start.

Babies who have complex medical conditions or need surgery and aftercare require numerous appointments every week, sometimes every day, with their physicians and various specialists. Appointments can take a couple of hours. Ongoing doctor visits to diagnose and treat their conditions can take months and years.

It’s hard on small bodies, and it’s hard for parents and siblings, said Dr. Jennifer Merchant of St. Luke’s Neonatology.

“It can be very overwhelming, particularly when you have to go from one building to another,” finding parking and offices, she said. “The easier we can make it for those families, the better.”

That’s the main goal of Idaho Elks Children’s Pavilion, which will open in fall 2019. The state-of-the-art, 100,000-square-foot building will more than double clinical space for children’s services and bring together most of St. Luke’s pediatric specialists and services under one roof.

“It’s really the standard of care in freestanding children’s hospitals across the nation,” Merchant said. “This is what our kids deserve.”

Merchant said having specialists in one location will be good for her, too.

“If I see something in that visit, I can connect with a specialist in real time,” she said. “Those sorts of opportunities are invaluable.”

The facility includes features to support the whole family — a Sibling Clubhouse to keep brothers and sisters entertained during long visits, a Family Resource Center for parents to get information about care, a teaching kitchen where families can learn to cook for kids with special dietary needs, and a rooftop garden and play deck.

“Those are some of the features that are very unique and focused on kids,” said Dr. Kathryn Beattie, executive medical director of St. Luke’s Children’s Services.

The Children’s Pavilion will give all St. Luke’s pediatric patients, whether they come in for a routine check-up or more complex needs, a more child- and family-friendly environment with innovations and easier access, Dr. Beattie said.

Families will check in once when they enter the building, instead of at each office or service they go to. Waiting areas are filled with natural light. Interiors and decor will display the natural beauty of Idaho and its wildlife. Colors and patterns will help with wayfinding. Families will have separate waiting spaces, and mothers will have private lactation spaces. Covered parking under the building will make access easier for strollers and wheelchairs.

The pavilion was designed with the help of families, physicians and nurses, in hopes of minimizing children’s fear and anxiety when faced with medical procedures, Dr. Beattie said.

“We’ve designed the space in such a way to be healing,” Dr. Beattie said. “The entry will be just beautiful and reflect the features of Idaho.”

And though 90 percent of St. Luke’s pediatric patients will never be admitted to the hospital, they will likely want to check out the glass and steel skybridge that connects the pavilion to the Children’s Hospital. The bridge over Avenue B offers impressive views of the Boise Foothills and downtown.

The skybridge will be accessible from the pavilion side, with the entry into the hospital secured by badge-entry, allowing physicians and other caregivers to easily visit patients who have been admitted.

Power and water have been connected to the building and the boilers and pumps are online. Finishing touches and testing of the internal systems should begin near the end of April, said Jamal Nelson, Children’s Pavilion project manager.

Work crews have put quality into every piece of the project, Nelson said.

“It all reinforces the values of St. Luke’s.”

About The Author

Sandra Forester works in the Communications and Marketing department at St. Luke's.