The Doors are Open at VCU’s New Children’s Hospital
By Janice Millan
The Children’s Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University has expanded. Its new high-tech multistory pavilion made nearly all of its pediatric outpatient services into an all-in-one facility. For inner city youth, this could mean less complication getting from one doctor to the next.
“Everything is in one location. All of her doctors can communicate,” said one patient’s mother, Nicole Houser.
The nearly two-hundred-million-dollar project took five years of planning. The Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU is part of a network of facilities located throughout Richmond. The Children’s Pavilion is now the largest, most advanced outpatient facility dedicated to children in the region. The pavilion, located on Broad Street between 10th and 11th streets, will provide diagnostic and treatment services for children. Its 640,000 square foot building will dedicate pediatric care to departments like radiology, same-day surgery, lab testing, dialysis, and infusions.
“With 90 percent of pediatric care offering on an outpatient basis, ease of access is not just convenience, it’s critical. Children can see doctors, nurses, and any others who will care for them more quickly, comfortably, and safely. And that’s an important part of the care we provide” stated VCU’s President, Dr. Rao.
According to civilrights.org, low- and moderate-income households spend 42% of their total annual income on transportation. Two-thirds of all residents in small towns and rural communities have few if any transportation options. Forty-one percent have no access to transit and another twenty-five percent have below-average transit services. Nearly twenty percent of African American households, fourteen percent of Latino households, and thirteen percent of Asian households live without a car. With access to transportation already an obstacle for some families, VCU pediatric services promises a commitment to reliability for all.
“VCU’s $200 million investment in the new outpatient Children’s Pavilion is an important contribution to the health of Virginia’s families,” said Gov. Terry McAuliffe. “The connection between healthy children, a healthy workforce and a healthy economy cannot be overstated. As we work to build a new Virginia economy, it is essential that we make the strategic investments necessary to ensure that all of our citizens have access to high-quality medical services.”
The Virginia Commonwealth University Health System is an urban, comprehensive academic medical center in central Virginia established to preserve and restore health for all people, to seek the cause and cure of diseases through innovative research, and to educate those who serve humanity.
The Virginia Commonwealth University Health System is committed to excellence in patient care and education as the preeminent academic medical center in the mid-Atlantic region. Quality and safety drive our vision, which is propelled by the best people dedicated to: Demonstrating superior value to patients, employers and payers; Securing our position as a national leader in integrated delivery systems; Fostering the contributions of all members of the healthcare team in the care of patients; Educating the next generation of health professionals using leading edge techniques and innovation; Applying novel research in the clinical and basic sciences, and translating new discoveries to patient care; Ensuring sufficient assets to support our mission and vision through disciplined stewardship of financial activities.
In addition to convenience, the new pavilion offers cutting-edge technology and services. Organization is by floor. On level one, in addition to the sky lobby/registration area are the ASK Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Clinic and a place where parents can leave the patient’s siblings during the appointment visit. Level two includes operational, procedural, pre-op and post-op rooms, and diagnostics. Levels three and four are the main clinics’ floors. Exam rooms are arranged in clinical pods to optimize a multidisciplinary care model. Each pod includes twelve exam rooms, a treatment room, support space, and a centralized clinical team hub. There are two procedure rooms and four operating rooms. The operating rooms are suited for immediate use and future expansion. A pediatric-only radiology suite and lab testing was also added. And, because education is a fundamental part of the university’s health system, a research space is also included in the fifteen-story spread. The Pavilion’s additions were made to tailor to the needs of the unique healthcare of pediatric patients.
“I know that Brianna’s medical conditions are complex and not textbook, but her team’s collaborative efforts show that they are dedicated to her,” Houser said. “This new Children’s Pavilion will allow Brianna to have all of her routine testing, infusions and appointments in one central location. It will change our lives.”
Accessibility was kept in mind for families during the pavilions construction, too. Curb-free drop off areas ideal for strollers and wheelchairs were made for better navigation. To combat tricky city parking, a 600-space garage is nearby with valet and self-parking options. The transit system is just footsteps away for inner city youth who might not have reliable transportation. So if a young patient doesn’t have reliable transportation, they can rely on the GRTC Transit system which can be found right in front of the facility at 11th and Broad.
The Children’s Pavilion design was created to be an oasis for pediatric patients. The James River theme incorporates elements of nature with light and green space through interactive displays and a sky terrace. That theme carries into the interior, with color schemes, flooring, layout and photos. The elevators that go to the parking areas are a can’t-miss glossy bright yellow. Floors are marked with giant wall numbers. Signs are in English and Spanish. Brianna Burke, 10, was one of the first patients to experience the kid-accustomed theme. “When I have to get my infusion, they have this little room with a curtain and you have your own TV. And the chairs look comfortable, you can tell just by looking at them!” she exclaimed.
Before doors even opened for the new Children’s Pavilion, it was recognized for its architecture and design. Recent awards include the 2013 Honor Award of Excellence in Architecture (AIA Richmond Chapter); 2014 National Healthcare Design Award (AIA Academy of Architecture for Health); 2015 Future Healthy Built Environment Award (Design & Health International); and 2015 Concrete Excellence Award (American Concrete Institute Virginia Chapter). HKS Inc. was the architect of the James River-themed project, with construction by Skanska USA Building Inc. and project management by JLL.
“The overall design concept for the building is derived from nature to include water, forest and sky,” said Leslie Hanson, principal architect on the project designed by HKS Inc.
For the future of the Children’s Hospital of Richmond, VCU continues planning for new facilities on the medical campus, including development of a hospital for inpatient children’s care, according to VCU spokeswoman Pamela D. Lepley. But, with transportation still a concern for some inner city youth, convenience might be the solution for many.
“The pavilion provides opportunities for VCU to have an even stronger impact in the community and to make a difference in the lives of so many children and families who need our help.” said Rao.