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Patients ‘sign off’ on launch of hospital expansion project

By Christina Echegaray
July 2011

Daniel Waggoner, 11,  signs the beam at an event kicking off construction for the expansion of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Photo by Susan Urmy.

Daniel Waggoner, 11, signs the beam at an event kicking off construction for the expansion of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Photo by Susan Urmy.

The Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt hosted a beam signing celebration in April to mark the start of a 33-bed expansion project.

Vanderbilt officials, community members, patients and families gathered to celebrate the hospital’s continued mission to offer the best, high-quality care for children in the region and across the nation. The $30 million expansion is part of a multi-year, multi-phase project to ease a growing demand for more space and services.

To recognize the kickoff of construction, about 100 guests signed a 14-foot yellow beam that will be installed as a permanent fixture of history in the expansion infrastructure.

“The beam signing event acknowledges Vanderbilt’s unwavering commitment toward improving the lives of our youngest patients and the lives of all children in our region,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “The launch of this expansion marks an important milestone for the region’s only resource for many children with life-threatening diseases.”

The added neonatal, acute care and medical-surgical beds housed in the new five-story facility will be adjacent to, and an extension of, the existing building’s fourth through eighth floors.

Also, capacity will increase to accommodate premature babies who are transferred to Children’s Hospital from outlying hospitals.

During the event, plans also were announced for a Capstone Challenge to reach a $13 million fundraising goal for the expansion, of which about $9 million has been secured. Once the $11 million mark is reached, the Ingram Charitable Fund will give the remaining $2 million, a contribution facilitated by Orrin H. Ingram II, a longtime supporter of Vanderbilt.
The event was an especially heartfelt moment for the families who walk through the doors of Children’s Hospital every day.

“The expansion allows more children and their families to be served and cared for,” said Susan Waggoner, a member of the Family Advisory Council and mother to Dalton, a 6-year-old patient who has been treated at Children’s Hospital since he was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect when he was just 2 days old.

An extra $20 million will be raised for programmatic enhancement to address Tennessee’s most prevalent childhood diseases.

“As a world-leading research university, Vanderbilt has a responsibility to discover new cures for children with life-threatening diseases, while providing the finest possible child-centered care for children throughout the region, “ said Luke Gregory, CEO of Children’s Hospital.

Award-winning country music group Rascal Flatts, which has been among the many supporters of Children’s Hospital, appeared in a video of congratulations to the hospital. In the past few years, the group has raised more than $3 million for the hospital’s capital project.

“Today is about growing this fabulous hospital and being able to reach out and serve many more patients,” said John Stein, president of Bank of America Tennessee.

Among the additional services, multiple programs will expand, including Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplantation, Cardiac Surgical Intensive Care and Congenital Heart Disease. Currently, Children’s Hospital is the only hospital in Middle Tennessee to offer these services.

“This construction allows us to go forward in serving our children and their families while alleviating some of the space issues we are having with increased volumes,” said John W. Brock III, M.D., the Monroe Carell Jr. Chair and surgeon-in-chief for Children’s Hospital.

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