HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (CBSMiami.com) – Wednesday, there were the sounds of children’s laughter filling the lobby of a hospital. The celebration was for the new, free-standing Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood.

“Whenever I go into that hospital,” said 12-year-old CJ George. “It’s like ‘ugh, white and blue walls, it scares me and makes me nervous.’ But coming in here, the first thought was, ‘Oh fun! This place looks awesome.’”

CJ knows all about hospitals; he just won a battle with stage 3 cancer. He was treated at the old Joe DiMaggio inside Memorial Regional Hospital. Wednesday, he got a look at the new, 204 bed hospital.

“That is so awesome!” CJ exclaimed as he walked into a CT scanner room made to look like a pirate’s ship.

“The first time I came into a room like this it was scary for me,” CJ remembered, “Dark room, black or white walls and this machine that almost looks like it’s staring at you and you know you have to go in it; but this is so much cooler.”

Throughout the hospital there are rooms for families to hang out together, play areas, a room just for teens, and large, high tech, hospital rooms that even have a bed for parents.

CJ’s mom Dawn was one of many parents who helped design all this. Her favorite part is the wing dedicated just to kids with cancer.

“You have someone to talk to, not feel so isolated, so alone,” said Dawn George. “I think it would have made a huge difference for us to have another family going through it.”

While kids will come from all over the southern half of the state for all types of services; doctors realize one of the key elements of healing here is what this hospital is designed around “the power of play.”

“At the end of the day,” said pediatric oncologist Dr. Anne Schaeffer. “Kids just want to be kids, so it’s really important that we don’t take that away from them. “

All the last minute tweaks will be complete by this weekend. Saturday, the public can tour the hospital and kids will be admitted starting Thursday July 21.


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