Agreement signed with Bon Secours and VCU for new children's hospital

Richmond Times Dispatch New Richmond Childrens Hospital

Posted: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 12:00 am
By TAMMIE SMITH Richmond Times-Dispatch

A group working to develop a freestanding children’s hospital for the Richmond region has signed an agreement with Bon Secours Virginia Health System, Virginia Commonwealth University and the VCU Health System to move forward with negotiations.

The new nonprofit Virginia Children’s Hospital Alliance also said Monday evening that it has raised $6 million for planning, appointed board members and partnered with the VCU Brandcenter to develop a unique identity for the proposed new hospital.

But where such a hospital will be located is still up in the air, said Katherine E. Busser, chief executive officer of the nonprofit, which is overseeing the effort.

Locations in the city of Richmond and Henrico, Goochland and Chesterfield counties are being considered, she said. A final selection of a location is not expected until 2015.

"We have had over 20 site proposals come forward from the four localities," Busser said Monday at a reception at The Jefferson hotel hosted by philanthropists Bill and Alice Goodwin, who have pledged up to $150 million to build a freestanding, independently run children’s hospital in the region.

"Our focus continues to be on making sure we can make this accessible to the vast majority of children in the community," said Busser, a former Capital One executive who was appointed in May to oversee the children’s hospital development project.

"This is a very complicated project and we’ve got a lot of details to work through," she said about the memorandum of understanding that was signed on Friday.

In order for a children’s hospital to be financially feasible, at least two of the region’s three major health systems would have to agree to stop offering most pediatric services in order for those patients to fill the new children’s hospital, according to a consultant’s report. VCU and Bon Secours, which operates St. Mary, St. Francis, Memorial Regional and Richmond Community hospitals, have agreed to do that.

HCA Virginia, which operates six hospitals in the region — Chippenham, Johnston-Willis, Henrico, Parham and Retreat Doctors’ and John Randolph Medical Center — has not signed on, and officials there have said the current system of having multiple access points to get care is working.

Donations announced Monday include:

  • A $1 million grant from the Virginia Blood Foundation, formed when Virginia Blood Services became part of the Institute of Transfusion Medicine headquartered in Pittsburgh.
  • A $1 million gift from community philanthropist Terrell "True" Farr Luck.
  • A collection of gifts from others totaling close to $1 million.
  • A gift from the Goodwin Family, whose holdings include The Jefferson, matching all of the gifts donated for the planning phase of the project.

"We want to assure our children that they are worthy of receiving the best medical care imaginable anywhere," Alice Goodwin said, thanking supporters and partners. "Our children’s hospital will accept the associated risks, and with the well-being of our children in mind, we will be able to overcome all issues."

The project is being divided into three phases.

The current phase focuses on planning, negotiating and agreement among the health systems, and site and facility planning.

Phase two will focus on facility design and construction planning, regulatory filings and operational planning.

Phase three will consist of construction, staffing and starting operations.

The official campaign to raise money to build the hospital will begin in early 2015. The pledge from the Goodwins is expected to cover up to a third of the costs to build the hospital.

Maureen Denlea has been hired by the Virginia Children’s Hospital Alliance to help with that effort.

Busser also recognized the work of Pediatricians Associated to Care for Kids, which has advocated for the past two years for a free-standing, independent children’s hospital.

She also said the Greater Richmond Chamber is providing office space for the next year, Williams Mullen has provided legal work pro bono, and Dominion Resources Inc. has provided financial leadership.

Also at Monday’s reception and making comments in support of the project were Peter Bernard, chief executive officer of Bon Secours Virginia Health System; Dr. Sheldon Retchin, VCU Health System’s CEO; and Michael Rao, president of Virginia Commonwealth University and president of the VCU Health System.

TLSmith@timesdispatch.com
(804) 649-6572