(June 14, 2011)
A major hospital addition will help make sure sick and injured children in eastern North Carolina have access to the expertise, equipment and facilities to help and heal them.
That was the message from physicians, administrators and major donors today as officials broke ground for a 78,000-square-foot, $48.2 million expansion of University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina's Children's Hospital. Construction will begin this summer, and the expansion is scheduled to open in 2013.
Among the features of the addition will be a nine-bed unit for outpatient services, a radiology department and a unit for children with cancer, blood disorders and other illnesses that compromise children's immune systems and require a controlled environment to prevent further illnesses.
Dr. Ronald Perkin, chair of pediatrics at East Carolina University and co-director of the Children's Hospital, said the announcement nearly four years ago to build the addition has spurred fund-raising and physician recruitment. Twenty-three new pediatric physicians have joined the pediatrics faculty at ECU since plans for the addition were announced in September 2007. Several of those are specialists, such as pediatric nephrologists and pediatric intensivists.
"The change in momentum is so dramatic I'm convinced it's divine in nature," Perkin said.
One of those physicians is Dr. David Rodeberg, a pediatric surgeon and co-director of Children's Hospital. He joined ECU last year, coming from Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He said it wasn't the fact a new building was being built, but the dedication to children's care it demonstrated.
"The hospital is the physical manifestation of the drive of the people and administration of the children's hospital," Rodeberg said.
The UHS Foundation raised $23 million to help fund the construction, surpassing its goal of $17 million. The top donors were James and Connie Maynard, who gave $9 million for hospital construction and another $1.5 million to fund an endowed chair of pediatrics at ECU. The hospital will be named the James and Connie Maynard Children's Hospital.
James Maynard co-founded the Golden Corral chain of restaurants and is chief executive officer of Investors Management Corp. He said a meeting and tour of Children's Hospital with Perkin sold him on the plan to donate.
"When you get turned over to Dr. Perkin, it's over," Maynard said, drawing laughs from the crowd of more than 100 gathered for the groundbreaking.
Related: View slideshow from the ceremony.