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by Christina Echegaray | Wednesday, Sep. 2, 2015, 12:50 PM
The Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt held a celebration Tuesday to mark the launch of construction on the hospital’s latest expansion, which will add four floors of new space atop the hospital’s existing structure.
Patients and families, joined by community supporters and Vanderbilt leaders, gathered to celebrate the hospital’s continued commitment to fulfill the growing health care needs of children in Tennessee and throughout the region.
The expansion will allow Children’s Hospital and clinics, which already serve about 1,400 children and families each day, to advance the size and scope of its missions to provide world-class health care, train future generations of pediatricians and pediatric specialists and conduct groundbreaking research that leads to new treatments and cures.
Approximately 300 people attended the festivities to sign a 10-foot white beam marking the expansion milestone and signifying the solid infrastructure of community support.
To support the building’s expansion, Children’s Hospital launched the “Growing to New Heights” fundraising campaign in October 2014. The cornerstone of the fundraising campaign was a $10 million gift from Kathryn Carell Brown, Julie Carell Stadler, Edie Carell Johnson and their families. They are the daughters of the building’s namesake, Monroe Carell Jr., and Ann Scott Carell, both now deceased.
“The outpouring of support from our community is making it possible to expand Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt,” said Vanderbilt University Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos. “Led by the Carell family and with enthusiastic participation by many individuals and organizations in our region and beyond, this campaign is truly a community effort on behalf of the children and families who need specialized care. I am grateful to everyone who has joined us so far.”
Each floor of the expansion will add 40,000 square feet to Children’s Hospital. Once construction is complete the hospital’s total size will have increased to nearly 1 million square feet.
With the architectural design and engineering phase nearing completion, construction is slated to begin in early winter.
The first floor to be completed will add 38 intensive care beds for newborns and other critically ill pediatric patients who need treatment for a wide range of serious conditions, including organ transplantation, neurological and neurosurgical conditions and a host of other serious pediatric health issues that require the highest level of care.
“Through the hospital’s expansion we are creating the promise of a brighter future for our most vulnerable patients. We will care for more children and families, train more physicians and nurses dedicated to the care of children, and discover more treatments and cures for devastating childhood diseases,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “I am deeply appreciative to the Carell family, to our campaign co-chairs, and to countless other generous supporters.”
Additional features that will be included within the expansion’s first completed floor are family areas, a playroom, a large waiting room, educational space and patient consultation rooms. The expansion was planned and designed by Donald Blair of Blair + Mui Dowd Architects of New York. Blair has served as planning architect for many of Vanderbilt University’s patient care and research facilities.
The goal of the “Growing to New Heights” campaign is to raise $40 million over three years to create funds that will support the total estimated cost of the building’s $100 million expansion.
Entertainer Kix Brooks, who is also a member of the Children’s Hospital Board, served as master of ceremonies for the construction kickoff festivities, which focused on “building stories of hope and healing.”
During the beam-signing event, two families, the Burney and the Schmucker families, shared their stories of what Children’s Hospital means to them.
Laura Burney shared an emotional story about her 14-month-old daughter, Brooklyn, who suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm on July 17, 2014. She and her husband, Justin, were thankful for the care that has allowed Brooklyn to be a happy, healthy toddler and thankful for the community’s support of Children’s Hospital.
“You don’t have to look very far around here to see what an amazing investment you are making — just look at Brooklyn,” Burney told the crowd. “Because of this place she is here, and because of this place she has a future. So I say thank you. Thank you to each of you in this room who took a part in saving her life, whether you were her doctor, her nurse, her surgeon or if you’ve donated to Children’s Hospital, you all played a part. We are forever grateful to each of you.”
The campaign cabinet also announced that $30 million has already been committed toward reaching the philanthropic goal.
Additionally, to support the campaign, every member of the Children’s Hospital Board has made a contribution.
The “Growing to New Heights” campaign, chaired by Kathryn Carell Brown, is co-chaired by community leaders Brooks; Rick Dreiling, chair, Dollar General Corp; Steven Hostetter, chief executive officer, TriStar Energy LLC; Bob Rolfe, chief executive officer, Medical Reimbursements of America Inc.; and artist manager Clarence Spalding, a partner at Maverick.
“When I think about all that we have accomplished in a little over a year since we started the campaign, I am so proud of our friends and the wider Nashville community. They have joined arms with us to make this expansion possible. So many people have given, sacrificed and made this their priority,” said Kathryn Carell Brown.
“This hospital cares for all children, and this expansion is vitally important so that the hospital can see more children every year. No child asks to be sick, and we need to do everything we can do to help them heal. These children are our future.”
Children’s Hospital, which opened in 2004, is Middle Tennessee’s only freestanding children’s hospital as well as the region’s only comprehensive pediatric health care provider, currently employing 2,500 faculty and staff, including 425 full-time pediatricians and pediatric specialists skilled in 30 pediatric medical and surgical specialties.
In May 2012, the hospital opened a $30 million, 30,000 square-foot, 33-bed expansion to create additional capacity for acute care, surgical and neonatal intensive care services.
Philanthropic support from the community has been a continuous part of Children’s Hospital, a nonprofit organization, since it first started caring for children more than four decades ago as a “children’s hospital-within-a-hospital,” housed within Vanderbilt University Hospital.
Over that time, Children’s Hospital has seen substantial growth and ever-increasing demands for its services. Patients are referred by the more than 300 community pediatricians throughout Tennessee and surrounding states who coordinate and partner in the care of their patients at the hospital.
During fiscal year 2015, there were more than 269,449 ambulatory visits; 15,480 inpatients; 53,964 emergency visits; and 16,793 surgical procedures.
For nine consecutive years, Children’s Hospital has ranked among the nation’s top 50 pediatric centers in the annual U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals. For 2015, Children’s Hospital achieved national rankings for a maximum of 10 out of 10 pediatric specialty programs, with half of those specialties among the top 20 in the country.
For additional information about the “Growing to New Heights” campaign and how you can contribute, visit vu.edu/growing.
Christina Echegaray, (615) 322-4747
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