Vanderbilt jumpstarts expansion plans for Children’s Hospital

Work to begin in 2015 on four additional floors

Vanderbilt University plans to construct four floors of inpatient space atop the existing Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital, hospital officials announced today.

Construction is anticipated to begin in 2015 and will increase the inpatient capacity of the 271-bed hospital to more than 300 beds, according to a release. Each floor of the expansion will add approximately 40,000 square feet to Children’s Hospital. When completed, the facility will offer inpatient capacity of nearly 1 million square feet.

Included in the expansion, for which VU officials did not disclose an estimated cost, is the relocation of the main hospital's helipad to the top of the new tower.

“As we recognize the seismic economic forces impacting hospitals and health systems across the nation, we have chosen to make a strategic investment to increase Vanderbilt’s support for the unique health care needs of children throughout the region,” Dr. Jeff Balser, vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said in the release. “The space and programs created in this expansion will allow Children’s Hospital to catapult forward as a national leader in health care, research and clinical training.”

In early 2008, the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency approved a certificate of need for expansion of Children’s Hospital (read more here). The project was put on hold as the Great Recession hit.      

Since Children’s Hospital opened in February 2004, the demand for services has surpassed projections, VU officials said. During fiscal year 2013, approximately 225,000 patients were seen in the facility's clinics, and its Pediatric Emergency Department cared for nearly 55,000 children. Nearly 15,000 of these children were admitted as inpatients and came from 48 states and the District of Columbia.

“The first new beds in this tower will add capacity necessary to care for premature babies and other critically ill children," Dr. C. Wright Pinson, deputy vice chancellor for health affairs, said in the release. "There can be no greater mission than to provide the resources necessary to give these children the very best chance for survival and the optimal start to life. This expansion continues Vanderbilt’s long-held tradition to provide our patients and their families the finest possible healing environment.”  

In May 2012, the hospital opened a $30 million, 30,000-square-foot, 33-bed expansion that created capacity for additional acute care, surgical and neonatal intensive care services. The 2012 expansion allowed the hospital to expand its Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplantation Program, as well as its Cardiac Surgical Intensive Care and Congenital Heart Disease program. Children’s Hospital remains the only hospital in Middle Tennessee to offer the services.