December 7, 2001

VCH outpatient clinic approved

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An architect's rendering of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital as seen from the corner of Capers Avenue and 22nd Avenue South. The new outpatient clinic is on the left of the drawing.

VCH outpatient clinic approved

The Vanderbilt University Medical Center Board has approved Phase II of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital, allowing for construction of an 11-story outpatient clinic. The $20 million outpatient clinic will be built parallel to the new children’s hospital, which is currently under construction.

The medical center board’s recommendation will need to go to the Vanderbilt University Board of Trust for approval.

The facility will connect to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital and will provide space for all Children’s Hospital outpatient clinic services. These services are currently spread over five different buildings on the Medical Center campus—Medical Center East, Medical Center North, Medical Arts, The Vanderbilt Clinic and Medical Center South. The 169,000-square-foot building will provide almost a three-fold increase in total outpatient clinic space.

For the first time in its 30-year history, Children’s Hospital will be able to offer all inpatient and outpatient services in one location.

“Offering consolidated services in a family-centered environment is paramount in meeting the needs of our patients and their families,” said Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs. “We are building a children’s hospital that will reflect the dedication and commitment Vanderbilt has to treating children and their families.”

The first three floors of the outpatient clinic will be common floors with Children’s Hospital, while floors 4 through 11 will house the outpatient clinics. Each floor will have a connecting corridor to Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Ian Burr, associate vice chancellor for Children’s Health Services, said planning for the Phase II building project is still ongoing and that the $20 million will provide for the outpatient clinic core and outer shell. Additional funds will be sought in the near future to finish the interior and equipment needs.

“We are saving a considerable amount of money by beginning construction at the same time that the hospital is under construction,” Burr said. “We have the cranes in place and all of the other equipment. A conservative estimate would be a savings of up to $5 million.”

Limited space in the current Children’s Hospital Clinic has also prompted the need for the new outpatient clinic. Children logged more than 160,000 clinic visits last year, a number that continues to rise. Since 1980, admissions to Children’s Hospital have increased by 45 percent, and clinic visits have risen by 215 percent.

Dr. Arnold Strauss, director of Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and the James C. Overall Professor and Chair of Pediatrics, said the numbers will continue to rise in dramatic fashion.

“Within the first two years of occupying the new Children’s Hospital and clinic, we will see an increase in patient visits of at least 20 percent,” Strauss predicted. “After those first two years, we expect growth to level off to 5 to 7 percent per year.”

Strauss said the dramatic growth and the need to integrate the clinic with Children’s Hospital indicate the urgency of moving forward with the Phase II building project.

“The two projects need to bond,” he explained. “The integration is vital to the care that we want and will provide, and it will help dramatically in the efficiency of taking care of our patients.”

Construction on Phase I (main Children’s Hospital) is on schedule, with an anticipated opening date of fall 2003.

“We’re very pleased and have made great progress,” said Fred DeWeese, vice president of Facilities Planning and Development. “The concrete frame for the main hospital building is up to the fourth and fifth floors. We expect the underground tunnel (connecting Children’s Hospital to the Medical Center) to be finished within the next two to three months.”