CONSULT January 2020

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New year, new home: Children’s expansion progresses toward opening

Published on Wednesday, January 1, 2020

By: Annie Oeth, aoeth@umc.edu

Moving into a new seven-story pediatric expansion will be the hallmark of a new year and a new decade for Children’s of Mississippi and for pediatric care in the state.

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Reddoch

Under construction since 2018, the children’s tower, which includes hospital and outpatient specialty clinic space, is on schedule for a fall 2020 opening, said Brian Reddoch, University of Mississippi Medical Center project manager.

“This is the largest construction project under way in Mississippi, and it has certainly been the most meaningful,” he said. “It is on budget and on schedule.”

Construction of the tower will be completed by midsummer, when the focus will shift from finishing the walls, floors and windows to equipping and moving into the addition, which will more than double the square footage devoted to pediatric care at UMMC. 

“The protective film has been removed from the building’s exterior panels, so now you can get a good idea of what the children’s hospital will look like when it is complete,” Reddoch said. The expansion can be best viewed from Woodrow Wilson Drive on the south side of the Medical Center campus.

This month, elevators, windows and drywall are being installed inside the tower. Later, walls will be painted a soft white, while the hospital’s furnishings will include child-friendly pops of lime, tangerine and fuchsia. The color selection is just one of the many ways the new space will increase the comfort of families receiving care.

Meanwhile, planning continues for the day in fall 2020 when the expansion will open. Medical equipment, supplies and furnishings are being ordered, and Children’s of Mississippi and UMMC department staff members are scheduling strategic tasks to make for a smooth transition.                

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Collado

“2019 has been dedicated to planning how Children’s of Mississippi will move into our state-of-the-art facility,” said Chris Collado, clinical liaison for the project. “Preparation for our move not only encompasses construction milestones and the movement of medical equipment and supplies, it also includes planning for the transfer of our patients, most of whom will be critically ill.

“For this reason, we have been diligently working with our leaders, frontline staff and patient families to ensure that our transition is safe, efficient and customer-focused.”

The expansion will include a new outpatient specialty clinic where patients will receive world-class care in a variety of pediatric specialties and subspecialties. Families will be able to access the 517-space parking garage adjacent to the tower. Transition plans include heightened communication with families as the transition into the new space nears.

A pediatric imaging center, new to Children’s of Mississippi, also will be in the tower, as will a new home for the Children’s Heart Center and a dozen new, larger, state-of-the-art operating rooms.

Portrait of Christopher Blewett
Blewett

“Not only will there be additional ORs, but they will be larger and more advanced,” said Dr. Christopher Blewett, pediatric surgeon-in-chief.

The Children’s of Mississippi surgical area opened in 2004 with seven operating rooms on the top floor of the state’s only pediatric hospital. The expansion will have 12 ORs, each reflecting the latest in medical technology.

“The size and technology of these new operating suites are the standard today,” Blewett said. “Our surgeons have outstanding outcomes now, but when our expansion opens, they will be operating in suites that match their skills.”

Two floors of private neonatal intensive care space are also a key part of the expansion, allowing parents to stay with their critically ill babies. The Medical Center’s current Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is a bay designed for about 30 babies; about three times that number of newborns are cared for there.

Portrait of Mobolaji Famuyide
Famuyide

“This will be a first for Mississippi and one that will give these newborns and their families the best start,” said Dr. Mobolaji Famuyide, NICU medical director. “With this new tower, we will be able to provide more developmental support, engage parents more in the care of their babies, provide a conducive environment for pumping and breastfeeding, and reduce the length of stay in the hospital.”

The $180 million expansion is being funded in part by philanthropy. In April 2016, the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi was launched by Joe Sanderson, Sanderson Farms CEO and board chairman, and his wife, Kathy. The couple started the $100 million fund drive with a personal gift of $10 million.

Less than four years later, the effort, also known as the Growing Campaign, has raised more than $77 million.

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Giesecke

“Mississippians are known for their generosity and also their love for children,” said Dr. Guy Giesecke, Children’s of Mississippi CEO. “It is amazing the gifts that have been made toward this project, which will provide a facility to match the skills of our medical team.

“We are looking forward to the day later this year when this expansion will be open for children to receive the care they need.”

To learn more or to join the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi, visit growchildrens.org.

 


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