For anyone, but especially a child, staying overnight in a hospital isn’t fun. Yet on a recent morning, a three-year-old patient was so excited that he couldn’t wait to get out of his bed at the Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del.
The reason? He knew he was about to spend time with some of his favorite type of action heroes – the Skanska team expanding the hospital.
Just before 7 a.m., the boy and his mother were led to a third-floor balcony overlooking the 450,000-square-foot expansion, parallel to the existing building and just 70 feet away. Going there, they thought perhaps one or two construction team members would be there to talk with them. Instead, a line of hospital staffers greeted Will and his mom. The children were given neon yellow Safety Week shirts to wear – after all, it was the fourth day of our Safety Week. Then they were told to look over at the expansion where directly across from them on the new building’s third floor about 230 workers were waiting to have the kids lead them in Stretch and Flex, a happy activity that distracted them from why they were at Nemours
“That activity really brightened his whole day, and he still raves about it all the time – it’s his favorite story,” his mother said. “I want to make sure that the workers who did it realize how much they’re impacting little children by doing what they did. It’s an amazing and wonderful thing. What they did for Will was awesome.”
The Skanska teams building hospitals tend to have a special connection to what they’re creating, as they understand the healing that their efforts will enable. That connection runs deeper with hospitals devoted to treating children. It’s even more unique on this campus, with the children able to watch from their rooms as the expansion rises.
Stretch and Flex is one of numerous activities we’ve done in partnership with Nemours to help brighten the stays of children, many of whom are there for months at a time and begin to consider the hospital their home. Our team has outfitted a wheelchair like a Cat bulldozer for the hospital’s Halloween parade. They’ve had excavators and loaders do demonstrations for kids watching from a balcony, and sung happy birthdays via two-way radios to children. They’ve discovered it’s possible to order child-sized hardhats and safety vests.
And, working in partnership with Nemours, we developed Freddy – a nearly eight-foot-tall cartoon construction worker made out of aluminum that our team has been hiding on the construction site every morning, for the children to look for from their rooms.
“Count your blessings”
“You come away from this and count your blessings,” said Frank Gavaghan, a Skanska superintendent. “And you hope that if you ever have a child in this situation, that others would be so caring and giving.”
Team members said it’s been easy to recruit both Skanska colleagues and craft workers to help out. All of these efforts are voluntarily done, and normally over lunch breaks.
“Helping these kids has touched the hearts of even the most hardened construction workers,” said Marty Corrado, Skanska project executive.
Added Chris Manning, Nemours senior public relations manager: “These activities are fun for us. But they’re monumental for the kids.”