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Le Bonheur Children’s Celebrates New Hospital

$340 million facility to open for patients in September

With great fanfare Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital celebrated its 58th birthday and new hospital with a parade and ceremony on Thursday, June 15. The $340-million, 610,000 square foot hospital will open for patients in late September. The new Le Bonheur Children’s is the largest children’s hospital in Tennessee.

“This is a great day for Memphis. We should be proud of what we have accomplished for our children. But it’s important to remember this is only the beginning of the story. There are many great chapters still to come in Le Bonheur’s amazing story,” said Meri Armour, president and CEO of Le Bonheur.

The 255-bed hospital nearly doubles Le Bonheur’s current space for patient care, research and teaching. Featuring the latest advancements in technology and comforts for families, the hospital is designed to provide each child and family with exceptional care. The new Le Bonheur will allow the hospital to continue to be a resource for families; to recruit and retain top talent from around the country; and expand pediatric medicine for decades to come.

More than $103 million of the $340-million construction costs were donated by the Memphis and Mid-South community, making it the largest fundraising campaign in the city’s history. Gifts from 4,970 individuals, foundations, organizations and corporations ensure that Le Bonheur will care for generations of children.

The hospital will be the fifth sustainable children’s hospital in the nation once LEED certified. Some of the green features include a modular energy plant, recycled construction materials, drip irrigation, natural light, motion sensors and energy efficient bulbs.

The grand opening celebration began with a parade around the hospital’s campus. Roscoe Orman and Sonia Manzano, better known as Gordon and Maria from Sesame Street, narrated the event. More than 320 children, families, donors, volunteers, construction workers, doctors and nurses marched in the parade. Three patients, selected by the public through Facebook, served as the parade’s Grand Marshals. Olivia Jones, Chance Futrell and Reese Wagner rode in a horse drawn carriage. Complete with floats, stilt walkers, the Memphis Mounted Patrol Unit and the Memphis Unicycle Club, the parade celebrated the many individuals and groups that make Le Bonheur special.

A ceremony on the new hospital lawn followed the parade. The ceremony included messages from Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Interim Shelby County Mayor Joe Ford and a video greeting from Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen.

After the ceremony, visitors toured portions of the new hospital, which will officially open for patients in late September. Le Bonheur will host a community open house on Sunday, Sept. 12, from 1 to 4 p.m. when more of the hospital will be open for tours.

Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital opened on June 15, 1952 thanks to the generosity of Le Bonheur Club. The Club released balloons with the hospital keys attached with the intention that the doors of the hospital would always be open to children in need. Nearly 60 years later Le Bonheur Children’s continues the club’s vision of ensuring excellent health care is available for every child.

Founded in 1952, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital is the Mid-South’s first and only comprehensive pediatric medical facility. Every year Le Bonheur treats 130,000 children from across the country and throughout the world. Le Bonheur is home to one of the nation’s 10 busiest pediatric emergency departments and hosts one of the largest pediatric surgical brain tumor programs. The new $340-million Le Bonheur will open for patients in late September. The 610,000-square-foot facility significantly increases the space for patient care, research and teaching. For more information, please call (901) 287-6030 or visit www.lebonheur.org.

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Posted June 16, 2010

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