Vanderbilt plans to expand children’s hospital

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A planned expansion at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital would put it among the nation’s 20 largest pediatric hospitals.

The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/1crFA5x) reports the hospital said it plans to build a four-story tower at a cost of $84 million. Each floor in the new tower is projected to be 40,000 square feet and one floor would have 36 patient beds. The other floors will have shell space for future use, Vanderbilt officials said in a letter to state officials.

Construction is slated to begin early next year.

Before the project moves forward, it needs approval from the state’s Health Services and Development Agency, which will consider the proposal on Jan. 22.

The panel approved a similar expansion plan for the hospital in 2008, but it was put on hold because of the Great Recession.

At the time, the hospital said it planned a nearly 400,000-square-foot expansion project at a cost of $248 million that would have increased the number of beds to more than 400.

After the recession hit, the hospital opted to expand in phases. That began with 33-bed expansion that opened in May 2012.

“It just makes more sense to expand the hospital in phases as needed,” said John Howser, Vanderbilt’s spokesman.

The current expansion phase would put Vanderbilt among the largest pediatric hospitals in the country, according to a 2013 listing from Becker’s Hospital Review.

“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,” said Dr. Jeff Balser, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “The space and programs created in this expansion will allow (Vanderbilt) Children’s to catapult forward as a national leader in health care, research and clinical training.”

David Stewart, a principal and senior architect at Gresham Smith and Partners who works with hospital clients, said hospital systems are starting to expand again after years of delaying projects.

“When you’ve put it off for so long, the facilities are (either) deteriorating or new service lines are needed, so the hospitals like to either replace or expand their facilities to meet the growing need for health care services,” Stewart said.

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Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com

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