VCU Health to add dozens more beds to Children’s Hospital, eyes future projects nearby

vcu health childrens hospital tower scaled

The Children’s Tower at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. The year-old addition to the pediatric hospital is slated for more beds and other facilities. (BizSense file)

Just a year after opening a massive expansion of its downtown pediatric hospital, VCU Health is already looking to expand the facility’s capacity.

The health system is planning to add roughly 40 more inpatient beds to The Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU at 1000 E. Broad St.

VCU Health Interim CEO Marlon Levy confirmed the project in a recent interview, saying it is expected to be completed within the next two years.

Levy said the expansion and other new facilities come in response to demand for services the hospital has seen since it was opened to patients.

“(There are) more surgeries, more ER visits, more hospitalizations, more outpatient visits. Every metric one could possibly look to that addresses the question, ‘Are we serving more kids and their families,’ the answer is yes,” Levy said.

When the health system completed its Children’s Tower, a 16-story, 72-bed addition last year, it set aside 144,000 square feet of shell space to be used in the future. The new beds will occupy 58,000 square feet across two of those unfinished floors.

Also teed up to fill in existing shell space is a cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology lab slated to open this summer.

In the fall, VCU Health plans to open a kids activity space called the Teammates for Kids Child Life Zone. In that space, patients will be able to do art projects, create music, watch movies and do other activities. The nonprofit foundation behind the concept was founded by country musician Garth Brooks and there are more than a dozen other similar play zones in pediatric hospitals across the U.S.

“We’re looking for ways to fill (shell space) in,” Levy said. “We reached the point we’re ready for that, probably we were ready for that soon after we opened.”

The total anticipated cost of the three projects is around $75 million, according to a health system spokeswoman.

The beds expansion is planned to consist of surgical beds as well as neonatal intensive care unit bassinets. The surgical beds are subject to regulatory approval through the state’s certificate of public need program (COPN). The lab and neonatal beds slated to be added to the Children’s Tower are already approved, the spokeswoman said.

There would still be remaining shell space after the new beds, lab and kids activity space are completed. The building is also engineered to allow the construction of an additional two more stories when needed, but there aren’t immediate plans to do so.

“At some point, we’ll bring in a crane and raise the roof,” Levy said.

The Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU marked the completion of the $420 million Children’s Tower a little more than a year ago. It was added onto the Children’s Pavilion, an outpatient facility that was completed on the same city block in 2016. Together the two facilities make up the pediatric hospital.

As it looks to fill out the capabilities of the Children’s Hospital, VCU Health is also in the early planning stages for further development at its downtown MCV campus.

The VCU Board of Visitors was briefed last week on a handful of capital projects being planned to improve facilities on the downtown campus, most of them in the area bound by Broad Street, the interstate and North 10th and Leigh streets.

Projects that are in pre-planning include the university’s new School of Dentistry to be built at 900 Turpin St. as well as an initial phase of additional inpatient facilities to be added to the Nelson Clinic at 401 N. 11th St. and the Ambulatory Care Center at 417 N. 11th St.

vcu mcv campus projects

A map showing potential new capital projects on the VCU Health downtown campus. Those projects shown here are in early planning and could be finalized and built in three to 15 years. (Courtesy VCU Health)

Looking further out, on a 3-to-15-year timeframe, there are plans for a new interdisciplinary health sciences academic building that would be built on the site of VCU’s current dentistry school at 520 N. 12th St. and a health system logistics center and parking facility that would be built underneath a mixed-use development across the street, VCU CFO Meredith Weiss told the university board members.

Weiss last week was named the university’s CFO after a stint in the post on an interim basis.

Also part of the long-term vision is an academic, research and office building that would be built on the site currently occupied by the West Hospital at 1200 E. Broad St., which Weiss said was built in 1940 and is considered beyond its useful life with more than $150 million in deferred maintenance.

Additionally under consideration is a new dorm near the future School of Dentistry.

Beyond those are two additional inpatient expansion projects on the campus.

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Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
2 days ago

MCV has become the Roman Empire of downtown Richmond. It will soon be one of the ten largest medical education, research and treatment centers in the US.

Don O'Keefe
Don O'Keefe
2 days ago

The growth of VCU health has been a wonderful thing for downtown Richmond and the region. It’s exciting to see these expansions, but upsetting that this plan casually includes the demolition of the West Hospital on broad street, one of the most architecturally significant buildings in the city. This should not occur. If the building is not fit for use as a modern hospital, it can certainly be renovated into faculty offices or student residences. As a licensed architect in the commonwealth of Virginia, I volunteer to assist with the feasibility study. I’m sure there are hundreds of other architects… Read more »

Denis Etonach
Denis Etonach
2 days ago
Reply to  Don O'Keefe

Thank you for this. Richmond has lost enough architectural gems and there is no need to lose this one.

Rob Montey
Rob Montey
1 day ago
Reply to  Don O'Keefe

This happens every couple of years when VCU/MCV puts out a new master plan. They’ve been trying to replace it since before I was in undergrad (early 2000’s). ACORN was the organization that would lead the charge and stop them from tearing it down, but don’t know if they exist anymore. If you’re ever in there take a look at the floor of the entranceway. Beautiful mosaic which often gets overlooked.

Michael Morgan-Dodson
Michael Morgan-Dodson
8 hours ago
Reply to  Rob Montey

ACORN folded into Better Housing and no longer around,

HRF might step up. It does seem to come around each Master Plan update.

Daniel Thomas
Daniel Thomas
1 day ago
Reply to  Don O'Keefe

VCU’s strategy has been to make West Hospital completely unusable for the staff housed there by deferring maintenance and refusing to fix problems, so that they can point to it as needing to be demolished. For example, the prehospital education department that teaches paramedics, EMTs, and others sits in the windowless basement where there are constant water & sewer backups, mold problems, etc. VCU will only provide the bare minimum needed to not get sued for a hazardous work environment, and no more. The existing facility could be retained, reconfigured, repaired, and updated to provide modern facilities while retaining the… Read more »

Polgar Concertado
Polgar Concertado
23 hours ago
Reply to  Daniel Thomas

To be fair… if you actually walk through West Hospital, many floors have been renovated in the last 10 years. I’m with you that I’d prefer the building stay, but VCUH is not totally ignoring it.

Zach Rugar
Zach Rugar
18 hours ago
Reply to  Don O'Keefe

God Bless you for helping keep our old architecture alive.

Charlie Dirado0ur
Charlie Dirado0ur
2 days ago

And to think I took the slings and arrows a few short years ago for advocating for this hospital to be built. The powers that be in this town couldn’t have fought harder against it. Doctors from PACKids spoke with aloud and determined voice that they needed this to better aid the kids and families of central Virginia and bring patients from all over the country to be seen. What once was seen as an ambulatory care center has blossomed into a full fledged powerhouse hospital serving a large community of patients and their families. This is care, economic development,… Read more »

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
1 day ago

Interesting new way to spell your name, Charlie?

Michael Boyer
Michael Boyer
1 day ago

What’s next VCU is going to blow up the Egyptian Building, Monumental Church?The First African Baptist Church they built a damn parking garage 25 ft from the front door.But,of course these people don’t care about history.

Jessica Cantilo
Jessica Cantilo
1 day ago
Reply to  Michael Boyer

History is important to preserve, however so is the future. As a parent of an inpatient child here at CHOR for the last 5 months (since January), the survival of my child wouldn’t be possible without this facility and care providers. I’d hate to think your beliefs would jeopardize these life-saving ventures. Have some perspective and empathy for the work being achieved here. This isn’t a golf course!

Peter James
Peter James
23 hours ago

Amen, Jessica. Well said! May your child be fully healed speedily. May she/he live and be well in good health and enjoy a long, happy and fruitful life. Sending positive energy to you for strength and comfort and praying for your child’s complete healing.

Michael Morgan-Dodson
Michael Morgan-Dodson
8 hours ago

True but if you need a new Children’s Hospital extension building, you could use the public safety lot they so screwed up. VCU talks about needing a new dorm. The West Hospital would be ideal and a cool space that could be easily retrofitted into either traditional dorms or apartments style suites.

Peter James
Peter James
2 minutes ago

The Children’s Hospital building was designed to be expanded. Two additional floors can be added to the southern two-thirds (Broad Street-facing) side. Any additional space (“extension”) would be added there. There’s no need to expand the footprint on any other property.

The Public Safety site is owned by the city, not VCU Health – and it’s now all but locked in as the site of GRTC’s planned transit hub, which will include commercial/retail space and high-rise development (residential, office, mixed-use and possibly hotel).

Freddie Edwards
Freddie Edwards
1 day ago

After what happen on Monument Ave, I thought it was a given that history means nothing to anyone in the City of Richmond. This is what you continue to vote for so enjoy the demolition of the City.

Last edited 1 day ago by Freddie Edwards
Jessica Cantilo
Jessica Cantilo
23 hours ago

Freddie you choose to cling to that layer of history out of ignorance. Ignorance of all the many layers of history even Monument avenue originally paved over. Monuments should be raised for those who save lives instead of those who would kill and enslave them. Expanding the Children’s hospital will champion the efforts of those who actively SAVE LIVES.

Peter James
Peter James
1 minute ago

Spot-on, Jessica. Beautifully said!