OLOL opens  Children’s  Hospital 


By Bonny Van

The Catholic Commentator 

Wearing a brightly colored ribbon and waving a stick with streamers, Hattie Davis, 8, maneuvered her wheel chair to visit with doctors, nurses and aids gathered in the parking lot of the new Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge. Davis and her family joined other patients’ families, hospital staffers and administration, community leaders and supporters for the Friday, Oct. 4 ribbon cutting and blessing ceremony to officially open the hospital.  

Davis, who was born with spina bifada, has been a patient of Children’s Hospital since she was eight months old, according to her mother, Amy Davis. Four years ago, Hattie had a three-month stay at the hospital after developing ARDS, acute respiratory distress syndrome. That experience, along with its challenges, was on top of their mind when the Davis family, including Hattie’s twin sister, Harper, her father, Jeremiah, and her brother, Harrison, 9, toured the new hospital.  

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Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital is officially open for business. Community leaders join hospital administration in the ribbon cutting ceremony Friday, Oct. 4, the feast day of St. Francis. The $230 million hospital is already scheduled for an expansion with the neonatal intensive care surgery unit.  Photo by Richard Meek | The Catholic Commentator  

 

“It’s amazing,” said Amy. “They have thought of every convenience, every amenity, they thought of everything – anything from the beds to the couches to having washers and dryers on every floor so that parents who have extended stays have a place to wash and dry their clothes.”  

Balloons, ribbons and streamers created a festive atmosphere, which kicked off with a video of the history of OLOL and the vision of the new hospital, played on a large screen on stage. OLOL president and CEO Scott Wester was joined on stage by Sister Barbara Arceneaux FMOL, regional minister for Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady; Gov. John Bel Edwards; Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston-Broome, Bishop Michael G. Duca; Dr. Shaun Kemmerly, chief medical officer of the Children’s Hospital; and, Dr. Alston Dunbar, president of OLOL Children’s Health.  During each of their remarks, the dignitaries told the individual story of Children’s Hospital patients who also sat on the stage.  

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The final transfer patient is greeted by team members at the new Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital on Oct. 5. The new hospital opened at 6 a.m. on Oct. 5. Photo submitted by Trey Williams | Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System

 

“This day has been dreamed about and planned for a very long time,” said Wester, who also announced the expansion of the neonatal intensive care surgery unit in 2020. 

Bishop Duca blessed the building, asking God to “make this place a house of blessing and a center of love for the children in need of healing and comfort.” 

“May those who bring their children here find, in this place, a place where physicians practice the art of healing with skill and love with a compassionate heart for each child; for nurses and aids to serve each child as if they were their own … Grant that, comforted in their illnesses, our children will be healed and regain their health,” said the bishop.  

He also prayed for the donors and supporters of the hospital and the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady and their hospital system “which continues to bless the Baton Rouge area, now with this beautiful gift for children.”  

Bishop Duca then blessed the audience from the stage and sent several priests into the hospital to bless it with holy water.  

“This has been such an exciting day for us,” said Sister Barbara after the ribbon cutting. “I think it’s been such a long time coming and it’s a great day we’ve been looking forward to.”  

Sister Barbara added the feast of St. Francis was chosen specifically for the grand opening. She added that the importance of emphasizing “the catholicity of the building” through artwork and other designs. A new statue of Mary stands at the front of the hospital, a significant part of the hospital’s mission.  

“We wanted her to be out towards the interstate so that people driving down the interstate can see her,” explained Sister Barbara. “There’s a light that shines upon her as they’re driving down (Interstate 10), you can see her – she faces the interstate.”