The Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children (BRHFC) was dedicated during a special event held in front of the 12-story, 760,000-square-feet building today. The dedication marked the highly-anticipated completion of construction on the $400 million expansion at Children’s of Alabama, the state’s only freestanding pediatric hospital.
Governor Robert Bentley and Birmingham mayor William Bell joined Children’s CEO and president Mike Warren, hospital leadership and staff as youngsters who have received care at Children’s presented the keys to the building to Dr. Sergio Stagno, Physician-in-Chief; Dr. Jerry Oakes, Surgeon-in-Chief and Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery; and Chief Nursing Executive Deb Wesley.
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 (NICU) 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 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (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 HIKS, Inc., in partnership with Giattina Aycock Studio, served as architect. Construction was completed on time and under budget.
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 the 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 an unmatched setting for 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 currently provided at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) 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 (ECMO) 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 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, due to its design and use of sustainable, energy-efficient and environmentally responsible materials. “Green” buildings create an environment of wellness for patients and staff that aligns with the Children’s mission. The BHFRC is more energy-efficient, requires less maintenance and will last longer so that cost savings can be directed toward resources that enable Children’s to provide excellent health care to the children of Alabama.
A highlight of the effort to gain LEED certification is the rooftop gardens that are 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 even the orientation of the building as it faces due north all contribute to the hospital’s earth-friendly profile.
Anticipated cost of the project is $399 million; $261 million for construction and the remainder for equipment, furnishings and other related costs. Financing is comprised of tax-exempt bond proceeds; state, county and local government support including $20 million from the city of Birmingham; and $110 million in contributions from employees, individuals, foundations and corporations. Major gifts include $25 million from Ben and Luanne Russell; $10 million from McWane, Inc. and the McWane Foundation; $8 from the Monday Morning Quarterback Club; $5 million from Raymond and Kathryn Harbert; and $5 million from the Hugh Kaul Foundation. Construction has generated approximately 1,746 jobs with a $70.6 million payroll. The daily operating budget is $2 million, compared to $1.3 million per day prior to the expansion.
About Children’s of Alabama
Children’s of Alabama has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured children across the state and throughout the southeastern U.S. since 1911. Children’s offers inpatient and outpatient services across its Russell Campus on Birmingham’s historic Southside with additional outpatient surgery and diagnostic imaging services provided at Children’s South and Children’s on 3rd. Primary care is provided at more than a dozen offices in communities across central and north Alabama. The Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children is the only hospital in Alabama dedicated solely to the care and treatment of children and is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet-designated hospital for excellence in nursing care. In 2010 and 2011, Children’s was ranked among the best children’s hospital programs in the nation by US News & World Report. It is a private, not-for-profit hospital that serves as the primary site of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) pediatric medicine, surgery, research and residency programs. Last year, patients made more than 634,000 outpatient and nearly 14,000 inpatient visits to Children’s from every county in Alabama and from 47 other states. More information is available at www.childrensal.org.