ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (FOX 13) - There was an extra-special celebration at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg Thursday.
It included a special dance performed by a very special group of workers.
Thursday marked a milestone: the official grand opening of the research and education building, making it the largest pediatric research teaching facility in the region. It also marked the final dance party between construction workers and the little patients who watched them build the facility across the way from the children's hospital.
The 225,000 square foot facility has been under construction for the past two years, and over that time, the children receiving treatment in the building next door have developed a very special relationship with the construction workers who would have a dance party with them through the windows across the way on Fridays.
It's become a tradition as the children watched the ongoing construction and it gave them something to look forward to. The construction workers with Skanska got so involved, they even helped Santa deliver gifts to them last Christmas.
Now that the construction is finished, the workers held once last dance party for the children, holding signs and blasting music while the children watched on from the windows above.
The newly completed facility will house multiple levels of care, starting with 40,000 square feet of lab space for scientists.
That lab space and the offices of the researchers are in the same area as physicians and healthcare providers who are delivering care.
The hope is that by bringing everyone together under one roof, it will foster innovation and collaboration leading to more discoveries and better care.
The new building will contain a high-tech simulation center, providing space for parent and staff training, including simulations of the moment a baby is born.
The new building will also house the hospital's institutes focused on cancer and blood disorders, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, neonatology and neurosciences.
The goal is to study the origins of childhood diseases.
Dr. Jonathan Ellen, president of Johns Hopkins All Children's says part of their research will focus on cancer.
"We are hoping to find cures for those areas of cancer, those areas in brains that we have been unable to find the answers to and by putting scientists together with clinicians we will be able to unlock the problems," Dr. Ellen said.
The center will also house a center for the collection, processing, and storing of millions of specimens.
In this age of molecular research for things like tumors, those collections should serve as a great resource for researchers.