December 19, 1997

New Children’s Hospital Planned

New Children's Hospital Planned

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This is an artist's rendering of the new hospital.

The executive committee of the Vanderbilt University Board of Trust has approved a proposal calling for planning and design of a new, free-standing Vanderbilt Children's Hospital on the medical center campus, university officials announced this week.

Construction of the project, to cost about $90 million, is expected to begin next year and be completed by 2001.

"Nearly 30 years ago, the Board of Trust gave its blessing to a unique concept of a 'hospital within a hospital' where the region's children would receive the finest medical care possible. Since that time, the impact of Vanderbilt Children's Hospital on the lives of children throughout the region has been incalculable," said John R. Hall, president of the Board of Trust.

"We are very pleased and excited to announce that on Wednesday, the executive committee of the Board of Trust decided to move ahead with the planning and design of a new Children's Hospital that will bring all of Vanderbilt's health services under one roof and help the hospital better serve the children entrusted to its care."

A new Children's Hospital will enable Vanderbilt to more fully meet the increasing needs of a region whose population has grown tremendously since the hospital was established, said Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs.

"The Middle Tennessee-Southern Kentucky region is now large enough to warrant and deserve a distinct Children's Hospital, conceived and built from the ground up as a child-oriented place," Jacobson said.

"With this new hospital, we will have the opportunity to provide 21st Century medicine for our children, along with the warmth and caring for which Children's Hospital is known throughout the region and beyond."

As Children's Hospital has grown over the past 27 years, new services and programs have been located in available space throughout the medical center, including various areas throughout the hospital, Medical Center East and the Medical Arts Building.

A new Children's Hospital would consolidate all the children's health services and programs offered on the VUMC campus, including inpatient services, outpatient clinics, surgical suites, the pediatric and neonatal intensive care units, a pediatric emergency room and the Child Development Center.

Consolidation of pediatric services under one roof would streamline and enhance the experience of children and their families when they come to Children's Hospital for inpatient and outpatient medical care, Jacobson said.

"A healthy childhood is by far the most important ingredient for a healthy life, and this new building will help us serve the needs of even more children," said Chancellor Joe B. Wyatt.

"With its longstanding ties to the community, Vanderbilt Children's Hospital is a source of pride for the university and the medical center. We're especially grateful to the Junior League for its generous support over the years."

Current plans are for the new Children's Hospital to be built at the corner of 22nd Avenue, South, and Pierce Avenue, across from the Kim Dayani Human Performance Center and just a short walk from the main hospital and clinic.

"For the past 27 years, Children's Hospital has been an important part of Vanderbilt University Hospital and the medical center," said Dr. Ian M. Burr, medical director of Children's Hospital, James C. Overall Professor and chair of Pediatrics.

"We've enjoyed many advantages as a result of this relationship, the most important of which is immersion in the academic and research environment of the University and the School of Medicine.

"The success that we have enjoyed owes equally to the tremendous support we have received from this community and from our community-based faculty," Burr said. "We trust that each of these relationships will be strengthened by the new facility and that collectively we can assure all children of our region access to optimum care."

An internal medical center committee plans to visit several leading free-standing children's hospitals associated with academic medical centers throughout the United States and Canada. Visits have already been made to The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla. Members of the group also expect to view, among others, The Children's Hospital at the Medical College of Georgia and Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland, Ore., both of which are scheduled to open next summer.

While details are still being developed, general features that would be expected in the new Children's Hospital include a layout that would make it easy for families to get into and find their way through the facility, an atmosphere that supports a family-centered philosophy of care and a design that conveys the message that it is a special place for children. Specific examples would include comfortable parent lounge areas, play spaces for children of all ages, comfortable in-room sleeping accommodations for parents, and playful, interactive artwork.

Established in 1971, Vanderbilt Children's Hospital is the only hospital in the region dedicated solely to the care of children. Its services cover the spectrum of care from basic primary care services to sophisticated specialty services offered nowhere else in the region to home health care and long-term follow-up of chronic diseases.

Each year, more than 47,000 sick or injured children make over 100,000 visits to Children's Hospital and its outpatient clinics. More than 60 percent of its patients come from outside the Metro Nashville-Davidson County area.

Vanderbilt Children's Hospital comprises more than 30 specialties, including neonatal intensive care, pediatric cardiology, pediatric infectious disease and pediatric critical care. Its Level 4 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was among the first in the nation and remains an important regional resource, with more than 1,000 admissions last year. Vanderbilt Children's Hospital is the only hospital in the region that offers the services of pediatric anesthesiologists, ophthalmologists, pain specialists, ear-nose-throat specialists and other physicians specially trained to care for children.

More than half of the children who come to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital are enrollees in TennCare, the state's health insurance plan for the poor, are otherwise under-insured or have no health insurance coverage at all. Vanderbilt Children's Hospital does not turn away any child in need of its unique services, regardless of financial situation or diagnosis.