May 10, 2012

Children’s Hospital debuts added space

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Ann Scott Carell cuts the ribbon at Wednesday’s event celebrating the opening of the long-awaited expansion to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Children’s Hospital debuts added space

This week’s formal opening of the new expansion for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt creates an additional 33 beds of badly needed space for the hospital. However, for Tennessee’s children and their families the added space represents much more — a welcoming place to hope and to heal.

In a ceremonial ribbon cutting Wednesday, officials with Children’s Hospital, joined by community and University leaders, celebrated the opening of the much-anticipated expansion.

More than 210 people attended the event. Among the ribbon-cutting guests were country music artist Kix Brooks and his wife, Barbara, Olympic champion figure skater Scott Hamilton, hospital and University leaders, patients, families and donors. Ann Scott Carell, the wife of the late Monroe Carell Jr., cut the ribbon.

The opening of the $30 million, 30,000-square-foot expansion concludes more than a year of construction, creating additional acute care, surgical and neonatal intensive care beds.

Since it opened in 2004, patient occupancy at Children’s Hospital has remained consistently high. The new space positions the hospital with necessary additional capacity to meet the growing demand for the specialty and sub-specialty services offered by the hospital’s physicians and staff.

“The Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt remains this region’s only resource for many children suffering life-threatening diseases. As such, Vanderbilt is furthering its commitment to our most vulnerable patients with this investment in additional hospital space, and by providing support for research into new therapies to treat childhood diseases,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Sisters Sophie, left, and Lily Hensiek spoke at Wednesday’s event. Lily, a former patient, created a cancer research fund called Lily’s Garden. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Sisters Sophie, left, and Lily Hensiek spoke at Wednesday’s event. Lily, a former patient, created a cancer research fund called Lily’s Garden. (photo by Susan Urmy)

In addition to the hospital’s expansion, more than $20 million in program enhancements are targeted for fundamental research into treatment and prevention of broad areas of childhood disease prevalent throughout Tennessee and the nation — including prematurity, childhood cancer and childhood heart disease.

A portion of the hospital’s expansion was created to accommodate more premature babies transferred from outlying community hospitals to Children’s Hospital’s Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, a service providing the region’s most sophisticated level of care.

“The addition of space within the hospital, along with 21,000 square feet of new pediatric clinic space in our Doctors’ Office Tower in January, further positions Children’s Hospital as a premier national destination for the treatment of injured and ill children,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, M.D., deputy vice chancellor for Health Affairs and CEO of the Vanderbilt Health System.

The expansion provides other enhancements, such as growth to programs including: Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant, Cardiac Surgical Intensive Care and Congenital Heart Disease. Children’s Hospital is the only hospital in the region to offer these services.

“This is a proud day for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt,” said Luke Gregory, chief executive officer of Children's Hospital. “We are excited about the completion of this phase of growth, which will meet the increasing requirements of the community, as well as allow us to introduce new technologies and services to better serve children across the country.”

Construction for the expansion began in March 2011, and was carried out by Balfour Beatty Construction.

“We are thrilled to be opening our expansion beds this week,” said Meg Rush, M.D., acting chair of Pediatrics and chief of staff at Children’s Hospital.

“These beds enable us both to better support and strategically grow several of our services in unique ways — provision of new models of care for the late preterm infant, addition of a lead-lined room for targeted radiation therapy for neuroblastoma, and beds to support our cardiac program.

“The new space allows us to continue our tradition of caring for children with both simple and complex needs,” Rush said.

The five-story expansion is an extension of the existing building’s patient areas on the fourth through eighth floors. The additional 30,000 square feet brings the size of Children’s Hospital to nearly 650,000 total square feet.

At the heart of the new space is a family-friendly, sunlit atrium. Children’s Hospital’s signature child-friendly art and themes of nature continue throughout each floor. Raccoon-shaped feet traverse the brightly colored tile flooring in one area while fall leaf patterns dot the space of another.

A unique feature for the expansion is a lead-lined room to provide pioneering radiation therapy process for patients with neuroblastoma, a cancer that develops in nerve tissue. Fewer than 10 lead-lined rooms exist in the United States, with a majority of these placed within children’s hospitals. The lead lining, which weighs 27,000 pounds and encompasses the entire room, protects others in the hospital from exposure to high-dose radiation.

Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., left, talks with country music star Kix Brooks, a longtime supporter of Children’s Hospital. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., left, talks with country music star Kix Brooks, a longtime supporter of Children’s Hospital. (photo by Susan Urmy)

“The expansion showcases the tremendous community and University support and philanthropy that has allowed Children’s Hospital to continue to grow and flourish, helping more children and families,” said John W. Brock III, M.D., Monroe Carell Jr. Chair, director of the Division of Pediatric Urology and Children's Hospital surgeon-in-chief.

“We are truly grateful for this support and our community. With this state-of-the-art facility, we will be able to continue our mission to serve as an unparalleled resource for all children and families.”

Among the many strong champions of Children’s Hospital have been members of the entertainment industry. Stars such as Kix Brooks, Rascal Flatts, Dierks Bentley and Scott Hamilton are major supporters.

Brooks’ support dates back to the early 90s when close friends introduced him to Children’s Hospital. Awed by doctors and nurses dedication to children and families, he donated proceeds from his first headlining show with Ronnie Dunn.

“I thought, ‘I’ve got to do my part.’ This isn’t THEIR hospital. This is OUR hospital,” said Brooks, who also sits on the Children’s Hospital Board. “I am very proud of the progress we’ve made between Music Row and the hospital. We have to keep growing the mission. Honestly, it all comes back to the hope in the children’s eyes, knowing they are counting on us to help them get well. It’s a giant responsibility and one we have to embrace.”

Visiting the hospital has had an immense impact on many companies and their employees as well, including Tri Star Services LLC, the parent company of Daily’s convenience stores, which has given countless donations and volunteer time to the hospital for over a decade.

“The medical advancements that make possible the betterment of the lives of thousands of children every year amaze all of us here at Tri Star,” said Steven Hostetter, the company’s CEO and chief operating officer.

“The additional beds provided by the recent new addition are critical to meeting the demand such a talented hospital creates. We are proud to be sponsoring just one of the floors and look forward in future years to continuing in the effort to reach even more children here in Tennessee and surrounding states.”

During fiscal year 2011, more than 197,000 patients were seen in Children’s clinics. The hospital’s Emergency Department cared for 52,103 children. There were 13,325 admissions during this period. Patients came from 48 states and the District of Columbia.