Nearly 200 community members, families of patients and hospital administrators gathered outside under a large white tent at Thursday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony for Children’s at Town Center, off Big Shanty Road just east of Interstate 75.
One of the ribbon cutters, and proud national anthem singer, Parker Grelecki, 5, has been a patient of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta his entire life.
Atlanta-based DR Construction Co. broke ground on the radiology wing of the Children’s at Town Center, which already housed an urgent care and sports medicine offices, seven months ago.
The additional 9,330-square-foot advanced imaging wing will open Monday with more than 20 pediatric radiologists of multiple subspecialties for newborns to teenagers.
Melinda Wilkerson, the clinical director of radiology and sedation for the entire Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta system, said the project cost close to $7 million, with half the money going toward equipment in the new wing.
Children’s at Town Center will use low-dose radiation digital X-rays, MRIs, CT scans and ultrasounds to find bone fractures or diagnose serious conditions, which can involve sedating young patients who have a hard time remaining still or are claustrophobic.
The new pediatric wing will be open Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Meet the team
Donna Hyland, CEO of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, said although the new wing will be filled with the latest equipment and technology, the best asset of Children’s at Town Center is the talent and skill of the staff.
“We are here to fight for you,” Hyland said. “There are so many people at Children’s who absolutely live to take care of kids.”
Hyland said 1,000 employees of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta live in Cobb County.
The entire staff of Children’s at Town Center has many years of experience working in pediatrics, said Jenny Bohn, a CT and MRI technician who lives in Marietta.
Bohn, who has been employed by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for 15 years, said she finds that children are more optimistic than adults.
Donna Molina, another CT and MRI technician who will work for Children’s at Town Center, said the hardest part of working in pediatrics is adjusting to the different age groups, but that aspect becomes easier with experience.
Shane Stewart, a CT and MRI team leader at Children’s at Town Center, said the new wing is well designed, roomy and inviting.
He added the facility has the same level of treatment as a hospital, but without patients having a long commute or being stuck in traffic.
For a few years, Wilkerson said Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta wanted to expand into Cobb County.
“We identified Cobb as a place we want to be,” said Wilkerson, who added the organization decided last year that it was time and moved quickly.
The miracle child
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is a nonprofit with doctors specializing in patients under age 21.
The system includes three hospitals, Children’s at Egleston in DeKalb County, Children’s at Hughes Spalding in Atlanta and Children’s at Scottish Rite in Sandy Springs, as well as 20 neighborhood locations throughout metro Atlanta.
Cobb County Commissioner JoAnn Birrell, who represents the Town Center area, and members from the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce also attended Thursday’s ribbon-cutting.
Ryan Grelecki is part of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s newly formed group, the Cobb Community Board.
Grelecki said the group is dedicated to educating the Cobb community about the resources Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta provides and how to support the organization.
For instance, Grelecki described his son, Parker, as a “miracle child,” who was born with hydrocephalus, also known as “water on the brain.”
The condition compressed Parker’s brain matter, Grelecki said, and doctors at Scottish Rite had to rebuild his skull.
“He was, medically speaking, born without a brain,” Grelecki said.
For five years, Parker’s whole family was told to wait and see. But, Grelecki said, “He is doing far better than we ever could have imagined.”
Grelecki said Parker, who has curly blonde hair and wears glasses, is a charismatic little guy who has far exceeded hopes for his cognitive ability, but does have delayed motor skills.
Grelecki, and his wife Crysie, who has lived in Marietta her entire life, will now have a medical staff filled with familiar faces close to home.
Should anything happen, including the nearly unavoidable bumps and sprains of their other two young children, it is comforting to have Children’s at Town Center in their backyard, Grelecki said.