Plans underway for new VCU in-patient children’s hospital

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 1/25/2019, 6 a.m.
A new in-patient children’s hospital is being planned, according to Virginia Commonwealth University. The design work is underway nearly four …

A new in-patient children’s hospital is being planned, according to Virginia Commonwealth University.

The design work is underway nearly four years after VCU and Bon Secours pulled out of a proposed free-standing children’s hospital, collapsing that effort.

“Our teams are still working through the specifics of the new in-patient children’s tower, but the new facility will be all private rooms and increase access to in-patient care in a facility built just for kids,” according to Shira Pollard, spokeswoman for the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, or CHoR.

She provided the information in an email to the Free Press in response to the newspaper’s query.

CHoR serves 60,000 children a year and currently has 182 beds for all services.

Those include 103 pediatric beds on VCU’s medical campus in Downtown, including 40 neonatal beds for premature babies, Ms. Pollard stated.

The other 63 beds in Downtown include 42 for children recovering from surgery or requiring acute care for burns, illness, accidents and other serious health conditions, and 21 for children needing intensive care, she said.

CHoR also includes 79 in-patient beds at its Brook Road campus, including 47 transition beds at the original children’s hospital for those recovering from physical trauma and 32 psychiatric beds located at the new Virginia Treatment Center for Children on nearby Sherwood Avenue.

When the new hospital would be built remains a question.

VCU, which opened a 15-story, $200 million out-patient center for children at 10th and Broad streets in March 2016, is developing the children’s hospital plans as its updates its medical facilities master plan, stated Pamela DiSalvo Lepley, VCU vice president for university relations.

VCU has been mulling a new in-patient children’s hospital for years, particularly after VCU and Bon Secours dissolved their partnership. At the time, Ms. Lepley said VCU Health System was eyeing its own development.

However, that idea was put on hold as VCU undertook a host of other projects and prepared a master plan for both campuses before taking a fresh look at its medical facilities for adults and children.

Meanwhile, CHoR and Bon Secours have begun a new collaboration in pediatric services. The two health groups are focusing on ways they can cooperate as Bon Secours begins developing a three-story, pediatric medical office building on St. Mary’s Hospital’s campus on Bremo Road off Monument Avenue in Henrico County.

According to the two hospital groups, doctors and team members from both organizations have been engaged in improving the design of the facility’s layout and workflow planning to improve access for patients and their families.

Both groups said it could take several years before collaboration on the goal of creating coordinated care between Bon Secours and CHoR, along with the sharing electronic health records.

Work groups from both organizations are engaged in developing clinical care guidelines and protocols in the following specialties that will reside in the new medical office building — cardiology, general surgery, neurosurgery, urology, nephrology, gastroenterology, pulmonology, neurology and endocrinology.

Elias Neujahr, CHoR’s chief executive officer said in the future, patients at Bon Secours could be involved in VCU clinical trials.

VCU and Bon Secours also hope to improve care for children with asthma and diabetes.

“We started this journey with patients and their families as our focus,” stated Toni Ardabell, chief executive officer for Bon Secours Virginia Health System, noting that “navigating specialty care can be a hardship for families.”

She said the partnership “will seek to instead create convenience and continuity for patients and their families.”

“This initiative combines the compassionate ministry of Bon Secours with the research and academic protocols from CHoR,” she said. “By working together, we can significantly elevate the care we all provide to our patients and their families through quality, research and education collaborations,” she stated.