Hospital expansion will 'transform' health care for Mississippi's childrenPublished on Thursday, February 26, 2015By: Jennifer HospodorPublished in News Stories on February 26, 2015Children's of Mississippi is planning a building project that includes extensive renovations to Batson Children's Hospital and an expansive new facility next door."This will be a transformational project for pediatric health care in Mississippi," said Dr. Rick Barr, Suzan B. Thames Professor and Chair of Pediatrics.Specifics for the space are still being worked out, but administration says the building will make room for growing patient volumes and open up pediatric-dedicated space for imaging that Batson, completed in 1997, is lacking. Guy Giesecke, CEO of Children's of Mississippi, said the hospital and statewide network of clinics that make up Children's of Mississippi have seen consistent growth in each of the last five years. Giesecke"As a result, we are seeing challenges with space in areas such as surgery, our neonatal intensive care unit, clinics and other space," Giesecke said. "Also, as we expand our clinics and physicians into the northern and southern regions of Mississippi, it is vital that we have the facilities available to accommodate the thousands of children across the state being referred for treatment that can't be provided in their hometown." The initial stage of the expansion will cost upwards of $150 million. Funding will come from a combination of donated funds, clinical revenue bonds and state support. The University of Mississippi Medical Center has asked state legislators for $30 million.Working with HDR Architects out of Dallas, Texas, Children's officials expect construction to begin within a year and a half and be completed inside of four years.Batson Children's Hospital shortly after completion. Floors six and seven, which comprise the surgical suite, were added later.Current plans for the project include a new neonatal intensive care unit. Batson operates the only Level IV NICU in the state for babies requiring the most specialized care. With 100 beds, the unit stays at or near capacity, so the new space will house more beds, and existing beds will be renovated.Services for the Children's Heart Center will also be brought together under one roof. The Center's existing services are scattered across the UMMC campus and the space is insufficient for the program's swift and dramatic growth. The new space will include 24 inpatient beds, two operating rooms, a cardiovascular intensive care unit and catheterization labs for heart patients. Additional pediatric clinics are also proposed for the project, as is an imaging and radiology unit dedicated to pediatric patients.Currently, pediatric patients receive CT scans, MRIs and nuclear medicine scans in the same area as adult patients. Barr believes a separate, child-friendly unit is a must for the future because imaging and radiology for children is vastly different than for adults.Barr"Those differences include not only creating a child- and parent-friendly and welcoming environment, but also a possible increased use of sedation for kids and different imaging techniques to minimize the amount of radiation used," Barr said. "That is especially important in kids who are rapidly growing and developing"Finally, the Children's Hospital addition would feature a new multistory lobby that provides a welcoming space for children and families, as well as an array of support services to make their stay as comfortable as possible. "Mississippi strives to take care of its own, and Batson Children's Hospital is a statewide resource that provides care at the level of any regional children's hospital nationwide," said Giesecke. "We're constantly working to develop services that meet the needs of our patients and we are here for all of Mississippi's children."