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Home / News and Events / General News / Patients ‘sign off’ on launch of hospital expansion project
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Patients ‘sign off’ on launch of hospital expansion project
By Christina Echegaray
April 14, 2011

Dalton Waggoner, 6, signs the beam at last week’s event kicking off construction for the expansion of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt as Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., right, and John Stein, president of Bank of America, Tennessee, look on. (photo by Susan Urmy)

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

Vanderbilt officials, community members, patients and families gathered Thursday, April 7, 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.

"While growing the hospital's capacity to care for children with all diseases, the new facilities will advance our research, education and treatment programs in childhood cancer, heart disease and prematurity, three growing challenges for children in Tennessee and around the world."

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.

Kenette Jones and her son, Trent, 2, add their names at last week’s beam-signing event celebrating the start of construction of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt expansion project. (photo by Susan Urmy)

"We are proud that Vanderbilt can provide this extraordinary resource, ready to serve the needs of this region's pediatric patients," said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, M.D., deputy vice chancellor for Health Affairs and CEO of the Vanderbilt Health System. "This expansion will allow us to improve upon our rich legacy as the premier destination for Tennessee's sick and injured children."

During the event, plans also were announced for a capstone project to reach a $13 million fundraising goal for the expansion, of which about $7 million has been secured. Once the $11 million mark is reached, Orrin H. Ingram II, a local entrepreneur and longtime supporter of Vanderbilt, will contribute the remaining $2 million.

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.

"This has been our home away from home. This is where you come and know you are going to receive the best care. They try to listen to know what works for families and patients."

An extra $20 million will be invested in programmatic enhancement to address Tennessee's most prevalent childhood diseases.

John Brock III, M.D., with Jennifer Salyers and her son, Kezden, 3, at the beam signing event. (photo by Susan Urmy)


"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 Jonathan Gitlin, M.D., the James C. Overall Professor and chair of Pediatrics. "Expanding our facilities will allow us to identify new and better ways to help children with cancer, heart disease and many other serious conditions."

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.

"This hospital is a symbol of excellence and passion, and it is so important to continue its expansion. Bank of America is proud to help the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt set opportunity in motion through this expansion enabling them to offer additional services to the area's youngest patients."

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. "We are all excited about the future at Children's Hospital."

Related Links: Beam Signing Celebration Video

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