Fairview to Build New Home for World-Class Academic Children's Medicine

Armen Hareyan's picture

Fairview Health Services announced plans to break ground on a $175 million addition to its Riverside campus in Minneapolis, creating a new, freestanding home for University of Minnesota Children's Hospital, Fairview. The facility replaces University of Minnesota Children's Hospital's 'hospital within a hospital' configuration.

The replacement facility, set to open in 2010, brings children's and maternal services together in one location. The building will house some of the leading clinical programs in the country, including pediatric organ transplantation, blood and marrow transplants, cancer treatment and heart surgery. Pediatric behavioral services, The Birthplace and 41-bed neonatal intensive care unit will undergo extensive updates and will remain in the existing medical center's Riverside campus. These units will be connected to the new facility by a short tunnel and skyway.

This replacement children's hospital is just the first step of a larger investment of routine replacement and strategic capital over the next six years. These facilities and programs to care for the people of Minnesota are expected to exceed a billion dollars. This includes investments in both the University campus as well as Fairview community facilities and programs.

Fairview, Allina and Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota last summer explored ways to build a new, consolidated children's hospital. After months of discussions, the parties agreed the plan was not feasible. Fairview resumed its planning toward building a replacement facility for its pediatric services, which is part of a 20-year clinical campus revitalization plan to replace and modernize facilities. The plan was jointly developed by Fairview and the University.

According to Jon Campbell, Fairview board chair, "Our talks last summer confirmed that the Twin Cities is in the unique position of having established, high-quality facilities for our children. We also concluded that preserving those facilities was important to our community. Although we all agreed that a consolidated hospital was not feasible financially, we also acknowledge our responsibility to keeping the quality of our existing facilities high."


For Fairview's part, that means replacing the 'hospital within a hospital' at the University of Minnesota with an up-to-date, efficient facility to continue attracting the best pediatric researchers, caregivers, faculty and students.

Fairview president and CEO David R. Page said the facility would enhance clinical care and maximize operational efficiency. "We have pediatric units separated by multiple floors, buildings and even a river," he explained. "This building will bring our care specialists together in closer proximity, allowing patients, families and clinicians the ability to interact much more easily. On top of that, putting services under one roof will streamline operations in so many ways, from supplies to lab services," Page said.

The new facility will adopt the latest clinical innovations and efficiencies, and will offer state-of-the-art room designs for both function and flexibility. Recently University of Minnesota Children's Hospital, Fairview opened two new prototype "dream rooms" employing such features as a room-size "magic wall" with three LCD screens for movies, video games, internet access and a live bedside-controlled roof-camera. These patient suites will be models for the new facility. They include a family retreat area that allows guests to stay overnight, with the comforts of built-in refrigerators, pantries and closets.

"The University of Minnesota's partnership with Fairview brings together the best of leading clinical research and translates it to better care at the bedside," says Frank Cerra, senior vice president for health sciences at the University of Minnesota. "This complements the University of Minnesota Medical School's plans to expand faculty and clinical service lines."

Fairview board members on Monday approved the project. It would not increase the hospital's 207 pediatric beds. Most of the cost of the facility would be borne by Fairview and financed through bonds, with the remainder to be financed from other sources, including philanthropy.

The 185,000 square foot addition would house pediatric specialty care units currently located in a variety of settings within University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview