BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children was dedicated during a special event held in front of the 12-story, 760,000-square-feet building. The dedication marked the completion of construction on the $400-million expansion at Children’s of Alabama, the state’s only freestanding pediatric hospital.
Located one block north of the existing facility, the BRHFC will accommodate projected growth in patient volume, anticipated medical technology needs and the planned consolidation of pediatric services including cardiovascular surgery and comprehensive solid organ transplant care. The hospital is licensed for 332 beds plus 48 neonatal intensive care unit bassinets. It is the largest medical facility expansion project in the history of Alabama and will make Children’s the third-largest pediatric hospital in the United States. The building is also the largest building project in state history to gain certification in LEED and will be the first LEED-certified hospital in Alabama. The BRHFC will welcome patients beginning Aug. 4.
The building is named in honor of legendary Alabama entrepreneur Benjamin Russell (1876-1941) and to recognize the $25-million gift by his grandson, Ben Russell and Ben’s wife Luanne, both longtime hospital supporters. Groundbreaking took place in May 2009. KLMK Group was project manager, Hoar Construction, in partnership with BE&K, served as construction manager and HKS, Inc., in partnership with Giattina Aycock Studio, served as architect. Construction was completed on time and under budget.
Family-Centered Care To support its mission to provide family-centered care, the BRHFC offers private acute-care rooms that are 30-percent larger than the largest rooms in the present building and, for the first time in Children’s 100-year history, all-private rooms in all critical care units. Each features a sleeper sofa, large wardrobe and small safe for valuables, along with a special patient education/entertainment system.
For more family convenience, each patient floor offers a laundry room and a kitchen equipped with a full-size refrigerator, microwave and ice machine. Waiting areas at the end of the hallways are flooded with natural light and provide sweeping views of the city, while 120 original works by Alabama artists decorate the public areas, adding to the family friendly environment.
Patients, families and visitors will find their way through the building using any of several visual cues that have been incorporated into the hospital’s interior design. A blue river motif within terrazzo floors winds through the public areas, directing foot traffic to and from entrances, elevators and patient-care areas. All patient floors and rooms are identified not only by number, but also by color and a special theme unique to each floor.
The BRHFC provides state-of-the-art technology that surpasses any available elsewhere in the state. Seventeen high-tech operating rooms increase the hospital’s general surgery capabilities, while two specialized cardiovascular ORs will unite the pediatric cardiac care provided at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Children’s under one roof later this year.
The Colonel Harland Sanders neonatal intensive care unit provides critical-care services for up to 48 newborns as well as the state’s only pediatric extracorporeal membrane oxygenation capabilities. ECMO is also available in the pediatric and the cardiovascular intensive care units. The hospital’s rooftop helipad can accommodate the landing of a Black Hawk military helicopter, which is often used during rescue operations in disasters such as Hurricane Katrina.
The BHRFC is poised to become the first healthcare facility in Alabama to gain the LEED certification, due to its design and use of sustainable, energy-efficient and environmentally responsible materials. A highlight of the effort to gain LEED certification is the rooftop gardens planted in native sedum to provide insulation and oxygenation. Up to 30,000 gallons of condensate are collected from the air conditioning system and used for irrigation and also to cool equipment. Designated green spaces on campus, 140 bicycle racks and the orientation of the building as it faces due north all contribute to the hospital’s earth-friendly profile.