Sinai Hospital of Baltimore will break ground today for a $29.5 million expansion of its Herman & Walter Samuelson Children's Hospital.
A two-story wing and related upgrades were designed to help Sinai improve the range of services it provides for patients from birth to age 18.
When complete in March 2012, the facility will feature a larger children's diagnostic center and all-private inpatient rooms with space for parents to sleep overnight. Sinai's pediatric intensive care unit will be renovated, and a larger pediatric oncology clinic will be built.
The children's hospital expansion is the latest in a series of improvements that Sinai has made in recent years to its Northwest Baltimore campus, along with a new south patient tower and atrium.
The project is driven by a need for more space and a desire to enhance the quality and efficiency of care for infants, children and adolescents.
"We're going to be able to significantly improve our ability to serve kids and their families because we are going to be offering private rooms for everyone, to give not only a richer, safer environment for patients but also to give more flexibility in staffing and in providing the array of services that children need," said Warren Green, chief executive officer of LifeBridge Health, Sinai's corporate parent. "A big part of what we're trying to do with this new hospital is provide an environment that puts its arms around the entire family."
Beginning around 2003, "the number of admissions that we could accommodate per year capped, because we really had no more room," said Joseph Wiley, chairman of the children's hospital. "There are many weekday nights ... in which we were maxed out. We had patients in the emergency room waiting for patients to be discharged, sometimes as late as 11 o'clock at night, sometimes as early as 5 or 6 in the morning."
The expansion, designed by Hord Coplan Macht of Baltimore, also will enable Sinai to keep up with the latest technological advances in pediatric care, said Sharon Rossi, director of patient care for women's and children's services.
"Technology changes, and with that the demands change," she said. "So to stay cutting-edge, we want to have the very best in technology."
Administrators say Sinai has the capacity to treat 2,635 children a year as inpatients and 30,600 children a year as outpatients. They project that the expansion will give Sinai the ability to admit 135 more pediatric inpatients each year, an increase of more than 5 percent, and treat an additional 600 pediatric outpatients each year, an increase of 2 percent.
In addition, they say, creating all private rooms for patients will enable parents to be with their children throughout their hospital stays. Now, Sinai's children's hospital has 22 inpatient beds, but only 10 of them are in private rooms.
The project is being financed by a combination of philanthropic contributions, state and federal funding and hospital funds. To date, Sinai has raised more than $17 million to build the project, including a lead gift of $4 million to name the children's hospital after the late Samuelson brothers, who were active in Baltimore's real estate industry.
The project's design is based on a philosophy of "family-centered care," which means the patient's family takes part along with the physician in the diagnosis, treatment and care of the child.
"Family-centered care has always been integral to the children's hospital at Sinai," Rossi said. "We were one of the first hospitals in the nation to allow parents to sleep at the bedside" in the pediatric intensive care unit.
The way Sinai approaches pediatric care, "you're not just treating the patients," said Laura Cohen, coordinator of child life services. "You're treating the whole family. It's a team."