Le Bonheur Children's Hospital announced the largest building expansion since the hospital opened in 2010. The four-story, $95.4-million addition will allow Le Bonheur to continue on their sustainable, long-term growth trajectory. The expansion includes enlarging the cardiovascular and neonatal floors, in addition to the surgery recovery area and main floor.
The 128,575 square foot construction and renovation will extend the west side of the hospital to the sidewalk of Dunlap Street, between Poplar and Washington avenues. Updated plans include an additional two stories to an expansion that was first announced in 2019. That version was put on hold during COVID-19.
"I am so thrilled to announce this major Le Bonheur expansion. This addition will help us make a generational difference in the care provided to children of the Mid-South and beyond," said Michael Wiggins, Le Bonheur President and CEO. "This kind of momentum will allow Le Bonheur to continue attracting and retaining the best physicians and caregivers to achieve our mission of providing excellent health care for children, teaching the next generation of pediatric experts, pursuing scientific discovery and serving children in their communities. This will have an impact for decades to come."
The additional infrastructure will support an expansion of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for premature babies bringing 14 new beds to the existing 60-bed unit and will include eight additional surgery recovery bays. Le Bonheur will also convert 12 existing beds to critical care use immediately to ease capacity needs during construction.
This expansion also will bring additional beds to the Heart Institute to create a 31-bed dedicated Cardiovascular Unit by adding 10 additional Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit beds to the existing 10-bed unit and creating room for an 11 bed step-down cardiac unit. A new MRI-guided catheterization lab will be added for a total of three catheterization labs.
Le Bonheur's Heart Institute has experienced significant growth in the past five years, adding 21 new cardiologists since 2015. The Heart Institute is recognized as a top program by U.S. News & World Report, as an elite pediatric cardiac surgical program by Society of Thoracic Surgeons and is a leader in transcatheter closure of Patent Ductus Arteriosus in premature infants.
Le Bonheur's existing 60-bed NICU has been consistently in demand during the pandemic. NICU rates are increasing across the region and nationally. Advancements in fetal medicine have increased survival rates for babies born preterm or with complex congenital anomalies.
Plans for a groundbreaking and other timing for construction milestones will soon follow this announcement.