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Richmond’s new home for pediatric inpatient, emergency and trauma care officially opens

Patient smiles for picture while moving into Children's Tower. Children's Hospital of Richmond's patient, Cheyenne Snell, and team members celebrate a successful move-in day.

RICHMOND, Va. (April 30, 2023) — Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU’s new Children’s Tower is now open. All patients in the pediatric acute and intensive care units were moved from the pediatric floor in VCU Medical Center to their new rooms in the completely kid-focused Children’s Tower over the course of the day. The children’s emergency department opened at 5 a.m.

“For decades our community has been asking for a children’s hospital that matches the caliber of care provided by the pediatric experts at CHoR, and we committed to making it happen,” CHoR president Elias Neujahr, MHA, MBA, said. “Today, we have the immense pleasure of delivering on that promise. The Children’s Tower is a full-service, comprehensive home for our nationally ranked programs and exceptional teams who are passionate about meeting the unique health care needs of children.”

When combined with the adjacent outpatient Children’s Pavilion, the Children’s Tower completes a city block – and nearly 1 million square feet – dedicated to caring for kids.

The first patient to move into the Children’s Tower was 12-year-old Cheyenne Snell, who is in the hospital awaiting surgery for a brain tumor.

Comprehensive, convenient care for kids

In addition to pediatric-specific operating rooms, imaging suites and trauma bays equipped with the latest advancements for optimal medical care, the Children’s Tower includes special touches to make the environment more comfortable for kids and families. The 72 all-private acute and intensive care rooms are among the most spacious in the country. Children helped the hospital team select the James River theme, along with colors and animal mascots to differentiate each floor and help with navigating the building.

Playrooms, a family gym and family lounges are among the many amenities available to patients starting today. Families will also have access to a RMHC In-Hospital-House, multifaith chapel and indoor children’s garden opening this summer. Even the cafeteria offers kid-friendly meals, with brick oven pizza and soft-serve ice cream among the dining options.

“We spent countless hours training and testing the new environment to make sure the building and our remarkable teams were ready for this day – for families like Cheyenne’s and the thousands of others who will turn to us for care in the coming months and years,” Jeniece Roane, vice president of operations for CHoR, said. “Though an entire city block may sound intimidating, accessing the highest level of pediatric care in our region has never been easier.”

The Children’s Tower is located one turn off Interstate-95, with free on-site parking, including complimentary valet for families coming to the emergency department. The $420 million building houses the region’s only Level 1 pediatric trauma center and emergency room with 24/7 access to any pediatric specialist a child may need.

Providers at CHoR care for both the most common and complex injuries and illnesses, from broken bones to cancers requiring bone marrow transplant. Last year, they served more than 70,000 families from Virginia, nearly all 50 states and outside the United States. The Children’s Tower is expanding inpatient bed capacity and emergency room access by 40 percent. Access is also increasing to imaging and Level 1 Children’s Surgery Center services.

“We look at this building as a promise to children and families, in Richmond, throughout the commonwealth and beyond,” said Shari Barkin, M.D., physician-in-chief of CHoR and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at VCU School of Medicine. “It is our collective commitment to providing the highest quality of care for every child, every time.”

Serving and supported by the community

After a long day, patients have a surprise ahead of them this evening. CHoR and VCU Police organized a special celebration – goodnight lights – to help the kids settle in for their first night in their new hospital rooms. Families will receive different colored flashlights with instructions to shine them out their hospital room windows at 8:45 p.m. First responders will wave and flash their vehicle lights on the streets below.

“The goodnight lights celebration is an opportunity to show our children that there’s a larger community rallying around them on opening night – and every night,” Roane said.

CHoR broke ground on the Children’s Tower in June 2019 as part of a comprehensive plan to address the needs of the community and state.

Donors and partners in the community have contributed more than $66 million toward Children’s Hospital Foundation’s $100 million capital campaign, which continues beyond opening day to support the building, as well as the teams and care within it.

Explore the Children’s Tower virtually at chrichmond.org/tower.

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