According to Diane Hupp, chief nursing officer at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, the neonatal unit at the hospital is running out of space.
“Five years ago, we had 31 neonatal beds. Today, we have over 60 neonates in the hospital and we are busting at the seams,” Hupp said.
That’s one of the challenges caused by the hospital’s rapid growth since its relocation to Lawrenceville in 2009, a challenge that administrators hope can be overcome with a $19 million expansion project announced Wednesday.
Gov. Tom Corbett congratulated Children’s on being chosen as a recipient of a $2.5 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant to help jump start the project. RACP grants are awarded based on a project’s potential to create jobs, positively impact the local and state economy, and construction readiness.
“We will see this eventually come back in taxes: the taxes that the individuals who are working here are paying, and the ability to help the economy grow overall, the construction work that will be done,” Corbett said.
Dr. Stephen Docimo, chief medical officer at Children’s, said the hospital has experienced unprecedented growth since moving to its Penn Avenue location.
“This is due to a number of things, but key have been expansion of our signature programs, which include transplant, cardiac surgery, neonatology and our telemedicine program,” Docimo sad.
The project includes expansion of the neonatal intensive care unit, the outpatient hematology oncology clinic, the bone marrow transplant and cellular therapies program, the cardiac unit and the telemedicine program.
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald applauded the hospital’s work and its positive impact on the surrounding neighborhoods of Lawrenceville, Bloomfield and Garfield.
“When we talk about the new Pittsburgh, the transformation, all the young people that are moving here and talking about the ‘eds and meds,’ this is really what we’re talking about,” Fitzgerald said.
Children’s Hospital president Chris Gessner said construction planning will begin soon, and that the first phase of the project will take approximately 18-24 months and cost $6 million. In total, the expansion project is estimated to take five to six years to complete.
Corbett said, once completed, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC will become a national model of pediatric health care.
“The measure of any great society truly is how do we care for those who can’t take care of themselves, from our children, to our elderly and everywhere in between. But especially our children,” Corbett said.