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New Dell Children's tower opens for patients

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It's moving day at Dell Children's Medical Center.

The new W.H. and Elaine McCarty South Tower officially opens to patients Monday morning expanding capacity by 72 beds. Within the halls of the new tower is an even bigger Epilepsy Monitoring Unit or EMU and the first in-patient acute care pediatric rehabilitation unit.

Dr. Maureen Nelson is the medical director of Dell Children's Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. She says patients can now stay in Austin without having to travel to San Antonio or Dallas for the care they need.

"You have no idea," explains Dr. Dave Clarke about his excitement for the new tower with eight beds in the EMU. He shares the same feelings Dr. Nelson has. As the director of the EMU, he hopes that his team will be able to better manage seizures for children. Last year the EMU saw more than 400 patients in the six bed unit for seizures. That number is up from 140 patients when the unit only had two beds.

Dr. Clarke says the EMU has the ability to expand to 12 beds.

Construction started on the $48 million dollar project back in 2011. The walls of the new tower are covered in art. The new expansion adds 250 pieces of art from artists all over the region and globe. Part of the new construction features an outside healing garden with a mosaic wall honoring all of the Woody Pet Therapy Program volunteers.

The four legged volunteers and their handlers are looking for more paws.

"There seems to be a very high demand for pet therapy. Now with the new tower we'd like to increase our program and have new dogs just for the South Tower," explained Susan Ribnick, co-chair of the pet therapy program.

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