The 20,000-square-foot pediatric doctor’s office, which cost about $13 million, will open July 7 on Barrett Parkway near Cobb Parkway.
The walls are painted light blue and green and the hallways, decorated with bubbles, seaweed and fish, curve through the building like waves.
The one-floor building provides an environment that’s fun and inviting for children, said Dr. Avril Beckford, the chief pediatric officer for WellStar Health System and a member of its board.
“Our vision for this center was that a parent could walk in and feel like they were completely at home, and that it’s fun and it’s welcoming,” Beckford said.
The center will offer patients from birth to age 21 a place to visit a doctor and have physical therapy or get an X-ray, a CT scan, an MRI or lab tests. The physicians at the center will not perform surgeries there.
The center also features a pharmacy where parents can pick up medications right after a doctor’s appointment.
A total of 15 physicians will rotate through the center, each with their own set of patients, and one will be on duty at all times, Beckford said.
Beckford said the community was in need of a dedicated place parents could take their children for diagnoses and preventative health care.
In fiscal 2013, all 16 of the WellStar locations combined saw 198,382 children come in for office visits, and 80,924 children went to the emergency room, said Tyler Pearson, WellStar spokesman.
The new center will have a pediatrician onsite at all times and be open as an urgent care center for regular business hours, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., and after hours from 5 to 9 p.m. during weekdays, 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Beckford said the center was made with parents in mind, too, so it makes going to the doctor convenient and quick.
“We did invest in space and time and energy, so it’s not looking at the dollars, it’s about the patient care and patient experience,” said Varma Rameswar, who oversees practice operations.
The medical equipment was also designed and arranged with children in mind. For instance, before going in for an MRI or CT scan, children can watch a stuffed animal get an MRI with an imitation of a CT scanner, called the kitten scan. Children watch a video that shows what the CT scan found inside the animal.
Beckford explained that the process of learning how the scan works will calm most children down, often enough that they don’t have to be sedated when they go through the procedure.
There are multiple interactive areas children can use to distract themselves from the seriousness of being in a doctor’s office.
When a child goes into a room to get their own CT scan, at the flip of a switch, the walls around the machine become an underwater scene, a jungle or a beach.
“The machine can be noisy, so they can look out and it’s like they’re looking through a submarine window,” Beckford said.
In the physical therapy room, patients can work with trainers on treadmills and weight machines. The room also includes a HydroTrack treadmill, which allows patients with a torn knee ligament to walk through water on a treadmill to build strength.
Beckford said these small details are what make the center a wonderful environment for children.
“That smiling face at the front desk, that nurse who holds your hand, that tech who knows you and/or your mom is really scared, that radiologist who knows he’s got to be super skilled to make this noninvasive and then all surrounding environment — it makes them feel comfortable,” Beckford said.
After working in pediatrics for 30 years, Beckford said she enjoys her job so much it feels as if she has never worked a day in her life.
“Being in pediatrics was so effortless. It gave me more energy every day,” Beckford said.
The center has already started accepting appointments beginning the opening day — July 7.
WellStar will open another new location in September on Roswell Road, called the WellStar East Cobb Health Park, which cost $73 million, Pearson said.
The 162,000-square-foot building will offer everything except an overnight stay. Patients can visit the health park to visit a doctor by appointment or for urgent care, to get tests and imaging done and to fill prescriptions.
“The people of east Cobb don’t have something like this, but now they’ll be able to get this kind of care,” Pearson said.
The facility will have seven exam rooms and two larger observation rooms, and it is expected to have 20 physicians working there when it opens, Pearson said.