Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU broke ground Saturday on its inpatient children’s hospital — kicking off construction of a $350 million facility that will complete an entire city block dedicated to the care of kids. The hospital will replace existing inpatient unit beds and consolidate inpatient and emergency care to one location, adjacent to the outpatient Children’s Pavilion on the VCU Medical Center campus.
The new hospital is part of a comprehensive plan to address the needs of the community and the state, becoming a destination for children and their families seeking exceptional health care as well as a destination for research and educational opportunities.
Bringing world-class people and programs to CHoR has been a focus over the past decade, and donors through Children’s Hospital Foundation have invested more than $90 million to support CHoR in that time. Those investments from the community have enabled the hospital to recruit more than 130 pediatric specialists, develop new clinical programs, establish additional fellowship training programs for the next generation of clinicians, and help more than 62,000 children and families each year. The foundation will conduct a $100 million capital campaign to support construction of the hospital and announced today that it will match the first $25 million in gifts from the community.
“On behalf of everyone at Children’s Hospital Foundation, I want to thank the many people in the community who have helped us on this journey and the team at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU for committing to this dream with us,” said Coleman Wortham III, chairman of the Children’s Hospital Foundation board. “With this groundbreaking, we are beginning the work of creating a facility that will match the caliber of the people and programs within it. Over the next four years of our capital campaign, we will work with dedicated supporters in our community to ensure that we can bring the best possible hospital to our children and families.”
More than 250 community members, hospital employees, donors and state lawmakers celebrated the groundbreaking. Among them were Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and Daniel Carey, M.D., Virginia secretary of health and human resources.
“Children are our most precious resource, and deserve a state-of-the-art facility that provides the highest level of care,” Carey said. “I am grateful Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU is focused on providing that for the children of Central Virginia.”
The 500,000-square-foot facility is set to open at the end of 2022 and will house trauma and emergency care; 86 private rooms for acute and intensive care; increased capacity for imaging services; family amenities including playrooms, performance spaces, Ronald McDonald House Charities rooms and outdoor gardens; and spaces for collaboration and education. The 16-story building will include four levels of below-ground parking.
“We are driven to serve all children, their families and caregivers in world-class outpatient and inpatient environments,” said Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU and VCU Health System. “We pledge to work with communities in the Richmond area and across the state to deliver the exemplary comprehensive health care that the children of Virginia deserve.”
Marisa Cherry’s 9-year-old daughter Lauren is one of them. She was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor when she was 3 years old. Marisa Cherry is a member of CHoR’s Family Advisory Network and, along with other families, was asked to provide input throughout the design process to ensure the most child-friendly and healing environment.
“While the groundbreaking is a great day, we have to remember that we are designing and building this new children’s hospital for families who are experiencing some of their worst days,” she said. “A family’s child may be unexpectedly injured or they may receive news of a life-changing diagnosis. For my family, it was a devastating cancer diagnosis.”
Cherry describes the two worst days of her life as the cancer diagnosis and relapse. She also heard the best sound of her life while at CHoR. After hours in a complicated brain surgery, Lauren exclaimed, “I need chocolate milk.”
“In that moment we knew our spunky, purple-loving firecracker was still with us,” Cherry said of her daughter.
After radiation, chemotherapy, brain surgery and a bone marrow transplant, Lauren is thriving. Just as her daughter grows up, Cherry hopes CHoR will continue to grow and make even more great strides.
“Let’s celebrate how far CHoR has come, but even when the walls are built and the paint is dry, let’s never stop working together to build a place that provides children and families [with] the best care and the best memories even on their worst days,” Cherry said.
“We heard our families and our community when they said how critical it was to have a dedicated pediatric inpatient environment with proximity to our award-winning outpatient Children’s Pavilion,” said Elias Neujahr, CEO of CHoR. “When this new building is complete, we’ll have an entire city block dedicated to caring for kids like Lauren.”
“Our vision is to be a top children’s hospital by 2022,” said Marsha D. Rappley, M.D., CEO of VCU Health System and senior vice president for health sciences. “All children of all communities deserve world-class care in a warm and welcoming environment. This beautiful new facility designed in partnership with our community puts children and their families at the center. It is the first important step in our pathway to being a top children’s hospital.”
The new hospital will be located on the site of the former Children’s Pavilion building on East Marshall Street, between 10th and 11th streets. HKS Inc. is the architect, with project management by JLL and construction by DPR Construction.