Editorial: Anna Shaw Children's Institute receives prestigious honor

On a hill overlooking the Hamilton Medical Center campus in Dalton you'll find The Anna Shaw Children's Institute. If you're driving by and have never seen it, the building has such a distinct design that it shouldn't be hard to spot.

The institute, which opened on April 1, is for children who are facing the challenges of autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or developmental delays.

The institute recently received an exceptional honor. Healthcare Design (HCD) magazine unveiled the winners and finalists of its 2019 Healthcare Design Showcase awards program. In November, The Anna Shaw Children's Institute will receive the Award of Merit (which is considered the magazine's highest award) at the HCD Expo & Conference in New Orleans. For the past 19 years, The Healthcare Design Showcase awards have honored "the best design and architecture in the health care industry." Nashville-based Earl Swensson Associates designed the building.

A press release from the institute best describes the facility.

"With design elements inspired by the style of a treehouse, the institute was designed to be considerate of children's differing abilities to tolerate light, sound and texture. The institute provides a unique environment with the overall goal to blend calming color and fun play for children of all abilities.

"The structure's roof line and design are patterned after a treehouse. The outside of the building pulls together the elements of glass, wood and mountain stone in a color palette of browns, greens and blues to reflect the beauty of the north Georgia mountains. The walls of windows provide for natural light to warmly flow into the interior of the building.

"The room designs include forest animals, birds or butterflies. Each of the rooms has dimmable lights. Some areas for care include the Swan Room, an aquatic therapy room for children with a swim tank. The Oriole room is used for occupational therapy. Feeding therapy can take place in the Finch or Falcon rooms in a booth that mimics dining out. Children can participate in speech therapy in the Sparrow or the Seagull rooms."

While we celebrate the work that went into designing such an important facility for northwest Georgia, we are even more excited to celebrate the work that is going on inside the building.

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