VOL. 124 | NO. 119 | Friday, June 19, 2009
Le Bonheur Adds To Original Plans, Stays on Track
By Tom Wilemon
BUILDING UP: The new hospital for Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center is going up next to the existing hospital. The structure is slated for completion next year. -- PHOTO BY TOM WILEMON
Low costs for building materials and an ample pool of skilled construction workers have allowed the new Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center to stay on track for completion one year from now – even with additions to the project.
The hospital will double the capacity of its neonatal intensive care unit from 30 beds to 60 beds and also will build out a floor originally reserved for future expansion. The additions will add another $13 million to the cost of the $327 million hospital.
Between 650 and 700 construction workers are now onsite, and that number is expected to max out at 700 to 800 by August or September, said David Rosenbaum, vice president of facility management for Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare.
The hospital’s completion and consecration date is June 15. Patients will be moved into the new facility September 2010.
Construction crews topped out the 12-story structure in April and have been putting the windows in since.
“Now, people can appreciate what a dominant structure it is in the Memphis Medical Center and what an impact it’s going to have,” Rosenbaum said.
The first three floors should be enclosed and temperature-controlled by mid-July, he said.
Simultaneous to the construction, the Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center Foundation is conducting a fundraising drive. The foundation is just under its original goal of $100 million and is looking to raise $13 million on top of that to cover the cost of the project additions, said Kavanaugh Casey, the director of the foundation.
Le Bonheur received state permission in December to double the capacity of its neonatal intensive care unit. It opened the unit in 2004. The unit is the Memphis area’s only Level III C neonatal intensive care unit as designated by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
A floor that had been reserved for future growth will be utilized because of increased demand.
“We are now seeing children from all 50 states come to Le Bonheur and be referred to Le Bonheur because of our reputation both with our brain tumor program and our epilepsy program,” Casey said.
The families of those patients are giving back to the hospital. One family from Oklahoma raised more than $54,000 for the new hospital through the “A Family Affair” campaign.
“We had a total of nine families who participated,” Casey said. “They could do a variety of things, whatever suited them best in this ‘family affair.’”
Mike, Michelle, Allyson and Sydney Perry of Bartlesville, Okla., sponsored a golf tournament, auction, dinner and other activities. The friendly competition among families raised about $152,000.
More than 500 people attended another fundraiser, “Wine, Women and Shoes,” with 100 of the attendees being new contributors, Casey said.
“We are trying to be creative in what we do in addition to traditional kinds of fundraising,” she said.
The foundation has another program for family gifting that allows children and grandchildren to collectively donate money in memory of a patriarch or matriarch.
Good economy news
Houston-based FKP Architects designed the new hospital. Skanska USA Building is the construction manager.
“We’ve been fortunate that this is a good time to be doing construction,” Rosenbaum said. “We’re on budget and on schedule for completion. Skanska has been able to schedule the work force so that we can keep the building moving. Everybody thought it would take several months longer to build than what it’s going to take. That’s been in large part, I think, because of the expertise Skanska has brought to the project.”
The economy is another factor.
“All of our materials, building material costs, are lower than they were this time last year: steel, copper, dry wall,” Rosenbaum said. “The other thing is that there are not a lot of significant projects, so the ability to get (a) good quality work force is good right now when you have a significant project like this. We have the benefit of getting a good work force. When you need to work overtime, when we need to work long hours, there are workers available. There have been times in the economy when you couldn’t man a job. Right now, that is not a problem.”