Erlanger Health System's new $35M Children's Hospital outpatient center part of $300M expansion plan

Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Erlanger Health System has commenced its public fundraising drive to fund a new $35 million outpatient center for its Children's Hospital, according to the Times Free Press.

So far, the health system has raised $8 million in contributions and pledges of the $23.5 million it needs from the public, Erlanger Health System CEO Don Mueller said Wednesday. The hospital will contribute $11.5 million, as well as part of a $70 million bond issue, according to the report.

Mr. Mueller said the need to accommodate more children and their families drove the decision to expand the hospital.

"We have rooms that are not big enough for parents to sleep in them, even if we renovate," said Mr. Mueller. He added that some parents even sleep on the floor beneath the cribs to stay with their newborns overnight, according to the report.

The new outpatient center is designed to make the hospital experience as child-friendly as possible. Patients and their parents will enter the hospital through a small train station where there will be a vintage 1891 locomotive on loan from the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. Erlanger is also working with the Creative Discovery Museum in Chattanooga to create exhibits in the waiting rooms, according to the report.

The outpatient center represents the first phase of a $300 million three-part expansion plan Erlanger hopes to execute. The second phase is the Children's Hospital Inpatient Center, which will be connected to the outpatient center. The third phase would be a women's and infant's pavilion.

Mr. Mueller said the outpatient center was the most important of the three facilities, as it will serve approximately 100,000 children each year, hospital officials estimate, according to the report. 

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