AKRON, Ohio — Akron Children’s Hospital is launching a $200 million expansion of its Akron campus to meet the current and future needs of children and their families. Called “Building on the Promise,” the expansion project is the result of significant growth in the hospital’s patient volumes and services.
“Our plan builds on the same promises we made in 1890 when we opened our doors,” said Bill Considine, president and CEO of Akron Children’s Hospital. “We treat each child as our own. We treat others as we would want to be treated. And we turn no child away regardless of the ability to pay. This expansion will ensure our ability to care for the next generation of children.”
The centerpiece of the plan – a critical care tower near Locust and Exchange streets – will include:
- A new neonatal intensive care unit with individual rooms for each of the hospital’s tiniest patients and their parents. The current Level III NICU treats the highest level of premature and critically ill newborns and is nationally ranked but has outgrown its space.
- A new emergency department with enough room to meet current and future patient volumes. Annual visits of more than 60,000 strain the hospital’s resources in a facility built to accommodate 44,000.
- Dedicated outpatient surgical suites to accommodate a more than doubling of outpatient procedures in the past 20 years.
- Dedicated space for several of the hospital’s pediatric subspecialty programs, which keep the highest-level of clinical expertise in the community and also help attract and retain nationally-known physicians. The hospital’s medical staff has grown 72 percent since 1991.
In addition, the plan calls for:
- Expanding the Ronald McDonald House of Akron to accommodate the hospital’s growth.
- A new six-level, 1,200 space parking deck, already under construction.
- A new “front door” for the hospital – a child-focused patient and visitor welcome center that will streamline access to the campus.
Two thirds of the cost of the project will be covered through public financing and internal reserves. Philanthropy will play a key role in the success of the campus expansion. The hospital plans a capital campaign to raise $50 million for the critical care tower and $10 million for the Ronald McDonald House expansion.
While Akron Children’s has made continual improvements, it has been 22 years since the hospital last undertook a major capital campaign.
“Our patient volumes have increased significantly and we are seeing patients from farther distances. Our main campus will always be the place for trauma cases and children needing the most critical care,” said Considine. “We hope to have the support of the community – from the business sector to the many individuals who have been touched in some way by the work we do at Akron Children’s on a daily basis.”
For the past few months, hospital leaders, patient families, physicians, nurses and clinical staff have been meeting regularly with architects, builders and the hospital’s in-house experts in Lean Six Sigma process improvement to plan the new space.
The process, known as “Integrated Lean Project Delivery,” is expected to improve productivity, eliminate waste, and enhance the overall patient experience. It is expected to reduce costly change orders in the construction phase and the project’s overall cost.
“We plan to build flexibility into our design so that we can be prepared for the changing health care environment,” said Grace Wakulchik, chief operating officer. “For example, we are designing our new neonatal intensive care units so they can become pediatric intensive care units or even general patient rooms if our patient volumes and patterns change.”
Department teams, in conjunction with the architects, are using small-scale models, including paper dolls, to design floors. Blueprints will be tested in full-scale mock-ups constructed in a local warehouse. This will allow doctors, nurses and patients to walk down hallways, enter exam rooms and reach for supplies – catching potential problems – well before the real construction begins.
Construction will begin in the spring of 2013 and will be completed in 2015.The companies assisting Akron Children’s with project management include: the Boldt Company, of Appleton, Wis.; Hasenstab Architects, Inc., of Akron; KLMK Group, of Richmond, Va.; HKS, Inc., of Dallas, Texas; and the Welty Building Company, of Akron.