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New MU Health Care Children's Hospital on track to open next summer

In less than a year, MU Health Care is expected to open its new Children's Hospital featuring 146 private patient rooms.

The media toured the construction site, which is adjacent to the University Hospital on MU's campus, on Monday. The new hospital will replace the existing Women and Children's Hospital on Keene Street.

Keri Simon, chief hospital operations officer at MU Health Care, said the building is designed specifically for children.

"It gives us the opportunity to really be intentional about the environment," Simon said. "[We include] soft edges, warm, family-centered spaces, so that not only are we providing great care, but we're providing a place that is less intimidating and less frightening for children, and less stressful for families when you have to be here."

A birthing center and over 30 subspecialties for pediatric care will be offered in the hospital, according to Simon. It will also have a sky bridge that connects the building to MU Health Care's human resources building across the street.

Katrina Lambrecht, chief operating officer at MU Health Care, joined the company after the Roy Blunt NextGen Precision Health Institute opened in 2021, but she said the infrastructure advancement attracted her to the job.

"A part of what attracted me to MU Health Care was the need to invest in the health care infrastructure. Coming out of a pandemic is a great time for all of us to reflect on the infrastructure we need," she said. "What is great here is [we're] an organization that recognizes that our health care needs are growing along with our population."

She said that the design of the building considers efficiency and allows staff to spend as much time with patients as possible.

"We really tried to keep the patient at the center of our design," Lambrecht said.

The project was approved by the UM System Board of Curators in November 2020 and started construction in March 2021. It's estimated to cost around $232 million, according to previous reporting.

Simon said that connecting families with other facilities on the MU Health Care campus is essential.

"Being on one campus is going to allow families to have better access to the full range of specialties we have," she said. "As someone who has children myself, being close to your support system is really important."

All of the staff from the current facility will move over to the new hospital once it opens in June 2024.

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