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New $235M Hospital Takes Shape in Baton Rouge

The estimated construction cost for the hospital and medical office building is $235 million.

Fri August 12, 2016 - Southeast Edition #17
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Our Lady of the Lake rendering.
Our Lady of the Lake rendering.
Our Lady of the Lake rendering.
Our Lady of the Lake photo
Site conditions have proved challenging during the design process. Our Lady of the Lake photo
The property included trees, shrubs, tires, drainage pipe and rock before work began. Our Lady of the Lake photo
Challenges on site included avoiding areas of existing wetlands and substantial regrading.

After more than a decade of planning, a hospital designed to change the lives of Louisiana's youngsters is taking shape in Baton Rouge. Expected to open its doors in late 2018, the new Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital will be six floors, 350,000 sq. ft. (32,516 sq m) and include inpatient beds, a pediatric emergency room, surgical unit and a hematology/oncology unit that will serve both inpatients and outpatients. The estimated construction cost for the hospital and medical office building is $235 million.

“A freestanding Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital will serve as the premier destination for high-quality, advanced medical care for children within a statewide network of pediatric healthcare excellence creating advanced research, highly trained physicians and community health initiatives that will ensure a healthier future for Louisiana's children,” said Dr. Shaun Kemmerly, chief medical officer, Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital. “Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital will support medical research, pediatric residency programs and academic training for future Louisiana physicians, in an effort to continuously feed the pipeline of tomorrow's healthcare providers with pediatric-trained practitioners.”

Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital is one of the largest providers of pediatric care in the state. Each year the hospital provides care to thousands of patients from all across state, along with parts of Mississippi and Texas. Our Lady of the Lake includes a Regional Medical Center, dedicated Children's Hospital, 300-provider physician group network and free-standing emergency room in Livingston Parish.

“Children make up 25 percent of Louisiana's population, and we recognize healthy children will grow into healthy adults contributing to the communities in which they choose to live,” Kemmerly said. “We are committed to positively impacting the long-term health of the state, and to do this we must begin with children. With this new facility we can continue to grow the resources for ongoing education for children to create lifestyle changes and to build healthy habits to break the risk cycles of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity.”

The new Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital project includes a medical office building that will primarily house clinics for pediatric specialists, allowing them close proximity to both the hospital and clinics. The new hospital also will feature playrooms on every floor. The idea is to make the experience less stressful for kids undergoing various tests and treatments.

“Children's hospitals designed with bright colors, natural light and access to relaxation spaces are more pleasing for patients. Research supports the belief that a child's environment can affect healing. Playrooms provide a space for children to do what they do best —play. These spaces help the children to feel normal,” Kemmerly said.

Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital offers pediatric specialty care across the state. It currently operates as a hospital within a hospital model inside Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. A new freestanding Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital will be built on 66 acres of property that runs parallel to I-10 in between Essen and Bluebonnet near Our Lady of the Lake's main campus in Baton Rouge. In addition to Baton Rouge, Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital Pediatric Specialty clinics are located in Hammond, Gonzales, Lafayette and Monroe.

Kemmerly said investment in the latest technology and equipment will continue to grow as the Our Lady of the Lake and Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital expands.

“This is especially true with the electronic medical records, web-based access for physicians and patients, data to help employers reduce health care costs and other new technologies playing a much bigger role than ever before in local health care. Academic medical centers develop new treatments and use the latest technologies before they ever make their way into community hospitals. This means that the patients from South Louisiana and across the region have access to new technologies and treatment that, to this point, have only been available by leaving the area. This will have substantial impacts on the medical tourism dollars that would be brought into the region and state.”

Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital cares for more than 100,000 patients each year from all across the Gulf South. Our Lady of the Lake's pediatric healthcare network includes more than 70 pediatric specialists in 25 subspecialties, in addition to such top-tier clinical programs as the St. Jude Affiliate Clinic, health centers in schools, mobile health Project and community asthma program.

“Our Lady of the Lake is a viable asset in sustaining jobs and job-growth opportunities, supporting other businesses and stimulating economic activity,” said Kemmerly. “The expansion of Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital is more important than ever, as health care and higher education now contributes more than half of all new jobs created in the United States. Currently, one of every 43 wage earners in the U.S. has a job because they work either directly for an academic medical center or they provide indirect services that arise from the activities of these centers.”

By enhancing Baton Rouge's reputation and establishing it as a medical destination, Our Lady of the Lake and Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital has the opportunity to attract patients from across the state and the region.

“Growth in clinical, education, research and commercial expansion will add more than $1 billion in additional impact to the state and economy annually by 2030,” said Kemmerly. “Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital will continue to build upon strategic partnerships like that of our relationship with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital allowing highly advanced, protocol-driven care for children right here in our community, decreasing the need to travel for health care.”

Scott Kuepferle, project manager, Command Construction Industries LLC, said current tasks at the job site include temporary access road construction, SWPPP plan and devices, clearing and grubbing, box culvert and sewer force main installation, substrate mitigation and flood plain mitigation. The main challenges on the project involve coordination between the different packages and contracts. 

“This is a necessary key in completion of the overall hospital. Timing and teamwork in trying to formulate the exact means and method of construction of each phase will be critical in achieving everyone's goals, and, overall, the timely completion of the entire hospital project.

“As a parent, and having used other children's hospitals for my own children, this takes a different priority in constructing the project within the parameters provided in the contract documents —time, correctness, budget, etc. Also, simply not being a highway, street, box store, this has a significant meaning to the community in a more impactful way,” said Kuepferle.

Excavators, dozers and scrapers are being used to build the new hospital, along with tractors, front end loaders, cranes, cherry pickers, triaxle trucks, trailer trucks and off-road trucks.

Main materials required include 90,000 cu. yds. (68,809 cu m) structural fill,  18,000 tons (16,329 t) of bedding material, 25,000 tons (22,679 t) of sand,  300 linear ft. (91 m) of SFM, more than 2,000 linear ft. (609 m) of GSM, more than 10,000 liner ft. (3,048 m) of PVC/ concrete drain line, more than 50 drainage structures and a 35 ft. (10.6 m) deep pump station with associated concrete work.

The property included trees, shrubs, tires, drainage pipe and rock before work began, but no tear down was needed. Dirt work due to impeding weather will be the most time-consuming part of the crew's work.

Brad Foster, HKS vice president architect of record, said his firm's vision was to create an iconic freestanding children's hospital.

“It will become the flagship children's hospital for the state of Louisiana. The concept honors the Franciscan heritage and unique eco-regions of the state. Each unit will represent one of these regions with a distinct color palette, imagery and animal icon that is native to the region.”

Foster said site conditions have proved challenging during the design process. This included having to mitigate an extensive flood plain, avoid areas of existing wetlands and substantial regrading and also incorporate the site/campus road design into the surrounding thoroughfares in order to improve existing traffic conditions in the area surrounding the hospital. Also, planning for future growth had to be taken into consideration.

“The building was sited to allow for horizontal expansion for emergency department and surgery. The design and structure will accommodate two additional floors to the hospital tower and medical office building.”

The structure had to be designed with clear on-stage and off-stage flows for people and materials. Using an integrated design process, each user group — from facilities to patient care — was represented in the meetings to ensure the best decisions for the project as a whole.

Foster said having the opportunity to meet with patients and families and incorporate their comments into the design was extremely satisfying.

“Many team members are from Louisiana, so to have the chance to create an iconic, freestanding children's hospital for the entire state was very rewarding.”

The hospital's garden space will feature the stained-glass windows from the original hospital chapel into the garden pavilion. The lobby space was designed to represent the Mississippi River, tying the building and the state together. It also will contain an immersion wall that allows children to physically climb into and sit within the wall along an area of the lobby.

The new facility will feature large, private patient rooms and a dedicated family space on each unit.

“HKS was responsible for the exterior of both the hospital and medical office building, as well as the interior of the hospital,” said Foster. “Regarding sustainability, HKS is dedicated to making design decisions that have a positive impact on the environment, inside and outside the building, from right-sizing the building footprint to material selections.”

For hospital officials, the new facility is well worth the wait.

“Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital currently has approximately 60 pediatric medical subspecialists providing care in about 20 different medical specialties, including gastroenterology, pediatric surgery, pulmonology, hematology/oncology and many others,” said Nicole Telhiard, vice president of patient care services, Our Lady of the Lake and administrator, Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital. “This new hospital will help us attract more subspecialists and medical specialties, increasing our capabilities to offer advanced medical care and allowing more children to receive excellent care close to home.”

Philanthropy supports the current construction project and ongoing health and wellness programs.

“To date, we have raised half of our initial goal of $50 million, but fundraising is ongoing and will not stop once we reach our goal,” said John Paul Funes, president, Our Lady of the Lake Foundation. “Philanthropy plays an important role in most children's hospitals and allows hospitals to purchase life-saving equipment, invest in programs that benefit the health and wellness of all patients and purchase unique and special items that help make the hospital and its treatments and procedures less scary for patients.”

Scott Wester, chief executive officer, Our Lady of the Lake, said, “We know that children have unique needs and require specialized care in an environment built just for them. Our goal is to build a hospital that will further advance care and research for children through greater recruitment of pediatric specialists, continue to grow our successful pediatric residency program that trains future Louisiana pediatricians and capitalize upon strategic partnerships like that of our relationship with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.”

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