New children’s hospital set to open in Savannah

March 7, 2021 GMT

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A new hospital for children opening up this week in Savannah includes features like a comfort dog, stuffed animals and play areas to help kids going through illness and medical procedures feel more comfortable.

The Savannah Morning News reported that the Dwaine & Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital will have 50 beds as well as 18 in the emergency room. The newspaper said the facility is the only free-standing children’s hospital in coastal Georgia. Patients are slated to begin arriving on March 11.


The new building is specifically designed and decorated with children’s needs in mind. Many of the features are designed to make them feel more comfortable during what is often a scary time for kids. Most of the rooms have beds that unfold so that parents or guardians can sleep there overnight but not interfere with play space during the day.

The hospital has a therapy dog named Penelope that will make the rounds and comfort kids.

“She’ll do bedside visits, and she’ll also do visits and cuddles with the team because it’s a big stress reduction,” Kristen King, child life manager at Memorial, told the newspaper.

There are separate play areas for teenagers and children. To help young kids understand an MRI machine, the hospital has a doll and a small MRI machine. King said especially younger children learn through play so they can use the doll to understand the procedure.

The hospital has 11 child life specialists whose job it is to help children and teens through their hospital stays and their illnesses.