It was just three years ago when a raging tornado ripped the roof off Doylestown Hospital’s early childhood education center, as 135 children took cover inside with their teachers.
On Saturday, hundreds gathered on the health care system’s campus to express gratitude and pure delight over the opening of a much larger brand new Children’s Village.
Recalling that frightening August day in 2020, Jim Brexler, Doylestown Health’s CEO, said, “I did have a very positive feeling that we had protected the kids, but when I looked at the building, I thought, ‘where do we go from here?’ This is where we went from there,” he said, gesturing to the new center behind him.
The excited crowd of families, legislators, employees and others applauded their approval.
“There are not many hospitals that run a daycare,” said Brexler, but “here, the highest priority is taking care of our families. Children’s Village is the number one priority.”
The daycare serves both hospital employees’ families and those in the larger community.
The CEO offered heartfelt appreciation to all those who made the project possible. From the first responders that arrived during the fierce storm, to architects, bankers, lawmakers, private donors and local officials, “we were overwhelmed with support,” he said. “It did take a village.”
It was Bernadette Rodrigo, Children’s Village director, who brought the audience to its feet, offering a long and loud round of applause.
Wiping away tears, she thanked everyone and said, “Children’s Village is an extension of all of us.”
With 16 classrooms, a library, art room, learning kitchen and multi-purpose playroom, the fully licensed center can serve about 220 children, from six weeks through kindergarten, the hospital said. Designed to replicate a village, it features colorful buildings connected to create a “warm, welcoming” environment.
“It’s the coolest play to play,” said Brexler.
The $24.1 million facility includes enhanced safety and security, with safe rooms that offer “near absolute protection in extreme wind events, including tornadoes and hurricanes,” the hospital noted.