September 28, 2007

Children’s Hospital expansion set

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This preliminary rendering shows the proposed eight-story addition to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. (courtesy of Earl Swensson Associates Inc.)

Children’s Hospital expansion set

This week the University Board of Trust took the first steps toward the expansion of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, approving $5.4 million in planning fees for the proposed addition.

This eight-story, 340,000-square-foot addition, if construction goes forward following the planning phase, would include:

• Obstetrical services, which would move from the main hospital

• 72 to 96 pediatrics beds

• 36 neonatal intensive care beds

• 36 to 48 obstetrical beds

• a newborn nursery

• 16 to 20 labor and delivery rooms

• 5 to 10 operating rooms

The total cost of the expansion is projected to be $203 million, with groundbreaking in 2009 and construction to be completed in 2012, according to a project overview presented to the Board.

Since the freestanding children's hospital opened in 2004, it has seen an increase in discharges of 37 percent, patient days of 31 percent, operative procedures of 53 percent, emergency visits of 31 percent and clinic visits of 45 percent.

“Growth is the sign of a dynamic medical center, and this expansion is the logical next step in the success story that is the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital,” said Harry R. Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs.

“I think it would be a wonderful addition to the comprehensive care we already offer families,” said Monroe Carell Jr., namesake of the Children's Hospital.

“We have an outstanding neonatal intensive care unit, but as a frequent visitor to that unit and in talking with the staff over the years, I have come to understand that problems can be minimized if infants are side by side with their mothers.

“Premature infants especially, do better if they don't have to endure a long transport from the center where they are born. We have always offered maternal care, but this would add to the care we offer for this segment of family life.”

The expansion was made necessary, officials say, by the continued high occupancy rates of the hospital and the desire to grow programs such as pediatric cardiac surgery, oncology and liver transplantation.

“Since the opening of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt we have seen tremendous growth in the number of children treated at our hospital,” said Kevin Churchwell, M.D., CEO of Children's Hospital.

“This growth has also led to our hospital being at full capacity during most of the year, leading to our decision that it is time to expand.

“The step the board has taken to approve a planning budget for this expansion is not only an acknowledgment of the need but also an investment in our children. The expansion will ensure our continued ability to offer the highest quality family-centered care to our community.”

The expanded building would connect to the existing hospital to the east, including the adjacent block of Medical Center Drive and the space currently occupied by the Vanderbilt Dayani Center for Health and Wellness, which is slated to relocate to the developing 100 Oaks campus.