The much-anticipated Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children in Birmingham will open to patients on August 4. The 12-story, $400 million, state-of-the-art expansion of Children’s of Alabama makes the facility the third largest pediatric hospital in the United States. And it represents the largest single medical facility expansion project in the history of Alabama.
The hospital was financed with a $110 million capital campaign and $235 million in tax-exempt bonds. Project manager is KLMK Group; construction manager is Hoar Construction, in partnership with BE&K, and architect is HKS Inc. in partnership with Giattina Aycock Studio.
The hospital features cutting-edge technology—for example, a “hybrid” operating room with $3 million in equipment functions as an OR and a cardiac catheterization lab, giving surgeons quick access to information—and it also has the personal touch. Patient rooms are larger, with room for both parents to stay with their child. Bursts of color are everywhere, from signage to lighting. Patient floors feature a family kitchen with refrigerator and microwave, even a laundry room.
The expansion adds pediatric transplant and pediatric cardiology, making it the only comprehensive pediatric health care facility in the state. It is bridged into the existing facility, as well as to UAB Women and Infants Center. Bed licenses increased from 275 to 332, plus 48 NICU bassinets.
The hospital features 120 pieces of art by Alabama artists. And most of the materials for the facility were produced within a 500-mile radius of the building—mostly in Birmingham or elsewhere in Alabama.
The hospital also will be the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) health care facility in Alabama. Facing due north, it makes the most of natural lighting yet ensures the sun never hits the windows on the broad side of the building. The design features stunning views. Other “green” features include two roofs with native plants, a coated roof that reduces heat gain from the sun and a central energy plant that collects 30, 000 gallons of water daily from air conditioning vents for other uses.
The new facility also is employee-friendly, incorporating ideas from staff members on topics like placement of equipment within rooms and the type of chairs in the surgical recovery room—ones with sturdy arms, so nurses can rock infants to sleep after surgery.
Existing buildings will be renovated for other hospital purposes.
By Lori Chandler Pruitt