Children’s Hospital is moving – here’s what you need to know

Nov 8, 2017

Friday morning marks the planned beginning of the move from Women and Children’s Hospital on Bryant Street to the new Oishei Children’s Hospital in the heart of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. In this historic move, there are many things patients, families, and the public at large need to know.


First off, the lights are on, beds are ready, and rooms have all been cleaned at the new Oishei Children’s hospital. It’s among the many finishing touches to a plan that’s been in the works for years. Thousands of hours have gone towards mapping out the move, determining who goes where, when, and how, and training the people who will make it happen.

The new Oishei Children's Hospital.
Credit Avery Schneider / WBFO News

Clinical Logistics Lead Cassie Church is confident the move will be a success.

“We’ve done 12 mock moves to prepare for this, between equipment, technology and actual patient transfers, so we are ready for 7 a.m. Friday morning,” said Church.

7 a.m. is the magic moment when it all comes together and the first patient will roll out, according to the plan. It’s also when the emergency department at Women and Children’s will be closed, and the one at Oishei will open.

“We are fully staffed, we are ready. So if there’s any pregnant moms that go into labor at 7 o’clock, please come to Oishei,” asked Chief Medical Officer Dr. Stephen Turkovich. “If your child is sick…and they need to be seen by one of our physicians, please come here.

An ambulance will be staged at Women and Children’s for anyone who doesn’t follow that direction, ready to take them to Oishei, located at 818 Ellicott Street.

Slow is smooth

The full "move day" plan is expected to take approximately 24 hours, but hospital staff are in no hurry.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Stephen Turkovich strolls through the main lobby of the new Oishei Children's Hospital.
Credit Avery Schneider / WBFO News

“We are not going to rush this,” said Turkovich.

Safety is priority one in the move, even if it means driving ambulances at two miles per hour to transport a critical patient. The transport teams doing the actual driving have experience the public can be assured of. They complete hundreds of moves of critically ill kids and newborn babies across Western New York to Children’s every year.

Every patient planned for

From the start of the week, hospital staff have worked up a manifest of every inpatient. As of Wednesday, the total number was about 65. For each of them, staff are considering a series of questions:

  • Are they going to move with the rest of the hospital?
  • What is their clinical condition and are there any related concerns?
  • Are there any mental health needs for patients and families?
  • Do they require any medical equipment to make the move?
  • Which ones are critically ill or could become critically ill, requiring extra personnel?
  • Do any patients have language barriers requiring extra communication about the move?

The patient manifests are being revised right through the final minutes before the move. To ease the process, hospital staff are getting a jump on tasks like ordering medications, lab tests, x-rays and other images, so they’re done before go time.

Proceeding in an orderly fashion

When it is go time, patients will move based on which area of the hospital they’re in. The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and Hematology/Oncology unit will be the first to go simultaneously at 7 a.m. They’ll be followed by the Labor and Delivery Unit, Mother Baby Unit, and Medical/Surgical unit. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit will make their moves last.

Move Day Routes to and from the hospitals.
Credit Oishei Children's Hospital

Patients will get a ‘go’ or ‘no go’ from designated nursing and physician leaders, who will alert a single command center at Women and Children’s of their status. Those who may not be ready to roll as expected will be slotted for a later trip to Oishei. The ones that are will enter one of 15 ambulances that will travel along pre-designated routes along city streets. Equipment not traveling with patients will follow an alternate route. Another will be set aside for families and shuttles from the old hospital to the new.

What about those streets?

No, they won’t be closed.

Friday is Veterans Day and traffic is expected to be about 30 percent lighter than usual – it’s why hospital officials picked November 10 as move day. There will be a heavier police presence around the hospitals, and the routes will be pre-salted by the City of Buffalo Public Works department to make sure any un-forecasted snow or ice won’t be an issue.

To help keep the move running smoothly, the public is asked to avoid the area as much as possible, to keep the transport routes clear.

A double dose of staff, and an injection of volunteers

As Turkovich and other hospitals officials have been stressing, both locations will be fully staffed until the move is complete. 800 employees – nearly double the average day’s 450 – will be on duty. They’ll be flanked by 400 volunteers from Key Bank, M&T Bank, and St. Joe’s Collegiate Institute.

Family ambassadors will meet families prior to the move and when they arrive at OCH

“There will be a continued warm hand-off and warm escort for all of our patients and families from the Bryant Street campus to Oishei,” said Turkovich.

Something going wrong? There’s a plan for that

Just because the move is intended to go smoothly doesn’t mean planners haven’t been thinking about the “what ifs.”

In the event of weather so bad the move becomes dangerous, everything will be pushed back by a week. As of Wednesday, the forecast called for only cloudy skies, and chilling temperatures in the 20s.

If a patient has a medical emergency along the way from hospital to hospital, a trauma team is on standby to assist as soon as they enter Oishei.

The lobby of the Oishei Children's Hospital.
Credit Avery Schneider / WBFO News

As a level 1 children’s pediatric trauma center, the Children’s has the responsibility of caring for injured children in the event of a mass casualty incident in the community. It’s one of the bigger concerns discussed by hospital officials on Wednesday. If one were to happen during the move, a plan is already in place with the Erie County Medical Center – children’s trauma center counterpart – to establish a second command post and receive adult patients. An additional 15 ambulances are also on standby to help.

How do I get there?

If you’re a family member or patient of the hospital and getting to Oishei on your own, parking will be open at its new ramp, located at the corner of North and Ellicott Streets. Free shuttles will be provided to patient families from Women and Children’s to Oishei, departing outside of 118 Hodge Avenue. When families arrive, they’ll be greeted by a family ambassador.

Stay tuned to WBFO on Friday, November 10 for updates throughout "move day." You can also follow the Oishei Children's Hospital Twitter account - @OCHBuffalo - beginning at 5 a.m. Friday for updates.