Sebastian Ferrero remembered at ceremony for children’s hospital entrance

THE GAINESVILLE SUN –┬áSebastian Ferrero remembered at ceremony for children’s hospital entrance.

In a room named for their late son, Horst and Luisa Ferrero stood before a crowd of UF Health Shands Hospital staff, community leaders and media and recalled a day seven years ago.

By Christopher Curry
Staff writer

In a room named for their late son, Horst and Luisa Ferrero stood before a crowd of UF Health Shands Hospital staff, community leaders and media and recalled a day seven years ago.

On that day in October 2007, they brought 3-year-old Sebastian, a happy, healthy boy who was short for his age, to the Pediatric Clinic at the Shands Medical Plaza for routine tests to determine if he had a growth hormone disorder.

During those tests, Sebastian received a dose of the amino acid arginine that was more than 10 times the correct amount, a tragic error that went unnoticed by hospital staff because of a series of “preventable medical mistakes,” Horst Ferrero said.

Two days later, Sebastian Ferrero died.

Determined to help protect other children and families from similar tragedies, the Ferreros launched the nonprofit Sebastian Ferrero Foundation to help raise the money and awareness needed to bring a dedicated children’s hospital to Gainesville instead of the pediatric care facility located in the larger Shands medical complex.

While some thought their campaign for a children’s hospital was only the “dream of a grieving couple,” Horst Ferrero said the couple were determined to use their son’s death as a “catalyst for change” to improve patient safety and quality of care.

On Wednesday, their combined effort with UF Health Shands officials reached a significant milestone. A morning ceremony marked the completion of an $11 million construction project at the UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital that includes a new brightly colored facade, a separate entrance from the rest of Shands and a new lobby area in the Sebastian Ferrero Atrium.

“Today represents that dreams can come true, and thank you for dreaming with us,” Luisa Ferrero told the gathered audience.

At the event, the Ferreros were joined by their three sons, Sergio, 8, Santiago, 6 and Stefano, 4, who wore brightly colored canvas sneakers and matching gray suits.

Those brightly colored sneakers fit in well with the new look of the children’s hospital.

The red brick facade is now covered by an array of blue, purple, red and yellow panels. On the lower floors, aqua-colored glass windows mark the exterior of the new pavilion.

On the floor inside, vivid patterns of blue, purple and pink lead from the entrance into the children’s hospital. Brightly colored tiles and nature-themed art span the walls. An interactive video screen stretches across the walls.

Inside the atrium stands renowned artist Romero Britto’s sculpture, Tomorrow, which depicts a boy in a red, orange and yellow striped shirt and green polka-dot pants reaching upward for a colorful butterfly.

Before the ceremony moved into the atrium, Dr. David Guzick, the senior vice president for Health Affairs at UF and president of UF Health, stood at a podium in front of the renovated facade and contrasted the hospital’s new “visual identity” with the old “cramped, dark, uninviting lobby.”

The hospital, Guzick said, now is a “bright, airy space that says ‘welcome, you are in the children’s hospital, we will take care of you.’ ”

The separate entrance was a priority for UF Health Shands officials, who said children and their families should never again have to go through the same entrance as adult patients.

During their comments, Guzick, UF Health Shands interim CEO Ed Jimenez, Department of Pediatrics Chair Scott Rivkees and Thomas J. Mitchell, the UF vice president for Development and Alumni Affairs, each took time to praise Horst and Luisa Ferrero for showing determination that, in the words of Guzick, “galvanized the community.”

Likewise, the Ferreros praised Guzick and other UF Health officials for sharing their vision and working to make the children’s hospital a reality.

Construction on the new facade, entrance, pavilion and atrium started in April 2013. Ponikvar and Associates was the architect, and Ajax Building Corporation was the builder.

The changes are part of an ongoing effort launched in the hospital’s 2010 strategic plan to bring together and consolidate services that developed in what Guzick has described as a “patchwork” or “checkerboard” pattern over the decades.

To date, the projects built through that plan have had combined costs of about $135 million. They have included renovations of the pediatric emergency room, cancer unit, intensive care unit and congenital heart center.

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