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VCU plans to build freestanding children’s hospital

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The Virginia Commonwealth University Health System plans to build a free-standing children’s hospital.

While many details of the plan are still in flux, the children’s hospital would have an open medical staff, its own management structure and its own governing board with community representation. The hospital would be part of the VCU Medical Center, and any financial surplus from the hospital would be reinvested in children’s services. 
“It is important to move forward with a vision for a hospital dedicated to children that will forever strengthen VCU’s commitment to pediatric education and research and address the overall health of children in the region and the state,” VCU President Michael Rao, said in a statement. “In addition, leadership has listened to parents, pediatric physicians and others who feel it is important to build a free-standing hospital wholly dedicated to children.”

A group of Richmond-area pediatricians, Pediatricians Associated to Care for Kids, or PACKids, has been trying to build a free-standing children’s hospital since 2010.

The group posted a statement on its website welcoming VCU’s move.

“Our board believes this is absolutely a step in the right direction, a step toward collaboration and solution-finding with all the healthcare systems.”

The health system said the plan for the hospital was developed after an extensive analysis was requested by the health system board. 

VCU described the hospital proposal as a step in a multi-year plan to advance children’s health.

“The proposed new Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU offers a sustainable model for children’s health care that is accessible to all children and ensures that the community will continue to benefit from the VCU Medical Center’s training of the future pediatric workforce and investments in pediatric research,” Dr. Sheldon Retchin, CEO of VCU Health System, said in a statement.

VCU Health System took over Children’s Hospital in Richmond in 2010 to form Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. It provides more than 40 pediatric medical/surgical services.
Funding for the project is expected to include health system cash reserves, financing and philanthropic support from the community through the Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Eventually, a certificate of public need would have to be filed with the commonwealth and approved before construction begins. Potential sites for the new facility will be explored with input from the community before selecting a final location, VCU said.

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