Buffalo, NY – Practice made perfect.
Due to extensive preparation, the smooth transfer of 125 patients from Women & Children’s Hospital in Elmwood Village to the new John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus on Friday was completed in under 11 hours — and without a hitch.
Four babies were born in the new hospital, and doctors performed their first surgery in the afternoon — even as 15 ambulances transported patients all day, beginning at 7 a.m.
“The plan we have been talking about has been executed to perfection,” said Jody L. Lomeo, Oishei Children’s Hospital president and chief executive officer.
The hospital had originally planned for a 24-hour window to make the transfer of patients in case of unexpected difficulties.
But arctic temperatures and a smattering of snow Friday morning failed to impede the plan — which received 75,000 hours of planning preparation since 2012.
Both hospitals were fully staffed and nearly 700 volunteers made the transition a polished effort, which included students and staff from St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, Buffalo.
The day started at 5 a.m., when staff opened a command center to coordinate the move.
The scene was hectic but focused an hour later in the Bryant Street hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit as staff, some in yellow disposable scrubs, prepared the first patients to move.
West Seneca resident Olivia Reger, 12, was the first child to be moved to the new hospital on Ellicott Street.
Wrapped in blankets to protect against the cold, Olivia was in an ambulance at 7:05 a.m., the first of dozens of trips made throughout the day to transport patients. When she arrived, she was wheeled on a gurney into the new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, where ribbons, nurses and doctors were waiting to welcome her.
Olivia’s mom, Erica Reger, praised the way the hospital staff prepared them for the move, but joked that she hoped Olivia would also be the first patient to be discharged from Oishei. She wanted to see Olivia feeling better and home with her family.
Womens & Children’s Hospital stopped taking new patients at 7 a.m., as the new hospital opened for business.