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Nashville and Memphis children’s hospitals growing

Nashville and Memphis children’s hospitals growing

Posted: Wednesday, June 2, 2010 8:01 pm
By: AP

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — When Memphis’ new Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center opens next month it is expecting to set an example for the rest of the country.
“In the children’s hospital world, everybody across the country is really excited about the new Le Bonheur because there hasn’t really been a new children’s hospital built in a long time,” President and Chief Executive Meri Armour told the Memphis Daily News.
The 255-bed, $340 million facility will incorporate new technology like a special MRI machine that provides high-resolution images before, during and after surgery without patients having to be moved.
Other amenities are not so high-tech, but possibly just as important. All rooms will have sleeping accommodations for up to two family members, there will be family rooms on every floor and a family resource center will let parents use computers to catch up on business or research their child’s illness with the assistance of an educator.
“Parents are welcome,” Armour said. “They are partners for us. We want them to be there.”
The hospital will also be filled with art, including a kinetic sculpture by Yvonne Bobo that will have flowers that move in the breeze, butterflies that flap their wings and a lily pad that opens and closes with a frog on it.
And the facility is built to meet some of the highest environmental standards. It includes chillers that are designed so that when the outside temperature reaches 50 degrees, the facility’s cooling equipment goes off and outside air is used.
Meanwhile, Nashville’s Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University is also expanding.
Dr. Jeff Balser, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the school of medicine, announced on Friday that the hospital will begin construction in the fall on a 30,000-square-foot addition that will help ease the bed crunch there. That is the first part of an expansion that was delayed in 2008 when the recession put a halt to all new construction at Vanderbilt.
The Tennessean reports that on average, the pediatric hospital is operating at about 91 percent capacity, well above the 80 percent desired to accommodate spikes in visits and admissions caused by illnesses like the swine flu.
The addition will stand five stories tall and add 33 beds to the hospital’s more than 350 beds.
It is just part of a planned 340,000-square-foot annex that was envisioned to add at least 72 beds, multiple operating rooms and about 20 labor and delivery rooms.
“Is it enough? It’s enough for now,” said Dr. Jonathan Gitlin, chairman of pediatrics and assistant vice chancellor for child and maternal health. “We will be expanding it further. Vanderbilt is committed to meeting the needs of families.”
The new building is expected to cost $30 million while an additional $20 million will go toward research, recruiting and expanding care in premature births, childhood heart disease and childhood cancer. Vanderbilt estimates that the cost to complete the entire annex will be about $250 million.
Published in The Messenger 6.2.10

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