Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics: Dr. Randall L. O’Donnell, President/CEO

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On June 18, 2010, Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo., broke ground on a six-story, 73-bed inpatient tower.

According to the hospital’s website,, The Elizabeth Ann Hall Patient Tower will house a state-of-the-art fetal health center, an innovative cancer center, an interfaith chapel and garden, a short-stay observation unit, and two additional patient floors with 32 beds total.

The tower will also allow Children’s Mercy to expand its pediatric intensive-care and oncology units and its pediatric clinical pharmacology and radiology departments.

Brad Leech, vice president of resource development for the hospital, told the Kansas City Business Journal that the project will ultimately cost around $68 million, but added that the hospital “really had no choice.”

“The kids deserve the best care in the community,” Leech said. “We had to expand to meet the needs of our children.”

Already a leader

Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics is the only freestanding children’s hospital between St. Louis and Denver, serving a large patient population. The hospital is committed to providing the best care to its young patients throughout the region.

The hospital has 314 beds, a newly opened Elizabeth J. Ferrell Fetal Health Center – one of only three such units in pediatric hospitals across the nation – as well as 40 specialty services, neonatal intensive care, and a Level I pediatric trauma center. The hospital has also received Magnet certification for excellence in patient care. Children’s Mercy also includes four smaller facilities in Missouri and Kansas that provide specialty-care, urgent-care, and primary-care services

Born of necessity

Many aspects of the Elizabeth Ann Hall Patient Tower will be innovative, and in many ways, the tower will expand Children’s Mercy Hospital’s reach and influence.

For example, the Elizabeth J. Ferrell Fetal Health Center will move to the patient tower once construction is completed.

“For the first time in 113 years, Children’s Mercy is going to be delivering babies where the baby is at high-risk,” Dr. Randall L. O’Donnell, president and CEO of Children’s Mercy, said at the groundbreaking.

According to the hospital’s website, the center will provide “…prenatal care, delivery services and neonatal/ subspecialty services for infants with complex birth defects,” and it “…will include two specialized delivery/operating rooms, four labor and recovery rooms with rooming in for dads, a sibling playroom, and much more.”

Also noted on the website, “Babies who are at risk for serious complications will have immediate access to the pediatric subspecialists they need, while being able to remain in the same hospital with their families. The center will provide consultative services to more than 500 mothers each year, with approximately 150 babies anticipated to be born at Children’s Mercy annually.”

Furthermore, the tower will add over one dozen beds to the pediatric intensive-care unit, along with two rooms specially designed for ECMO patients.

The community gives back

Through its “Happily Ever After” campaign, Children’s Mercy Hospital was able to raise a majority of the funding for the Elizabeth Ann Hall Patient Tower. Bond money covered a small percentage of the cost, Leech told the Kansas City Business Journal.  Jonathan E. Baum, co-chair of “Happily Ever After,” noted at the groundbreaking that Mercy’s employees and medical staff donated in excess of $250,000 to the campaign.

“Someone asked me, ‘Is this is a stimulus project?’ Well, it most certainly is!” Dr. O’Donnell said at the groundbreaking. “It just happens to be funded by the generosity and charitable giving of the people in our region.”

In addition, Kansas City-based JE Dunn Construction, one of the leading general-building companies in the United States, submitted the winning bid for the new facility.

“I was so thrilled the other day when we opened up the competitive bids for this project, and we found that JE Dunn was going to be our contractor for the project, because they have been working hand-in-hand with Children’s Mercy for all of the 17-and-a-half years I’ve been at Children’s Mercy,” Dr. O’Donnell said. “[They’ve) built so many projects, do it in such a quality way, and do it as true partners of Children’s Mercy.”

Remembering those who made it possible

Both the new patient tower and the interfaith chapel are being named in honor of those who have greatly influenced Children’s Mercy Hospital.

According to the hospital’s website, the 3,000 square-foot Lisa Barth Interfaith Chapel and Garden is being “named in memory of a longtime Children’s Mercy nurse who passed away in 2008 and whose vision was to create a place where patients, families, and staff could go for prayer, meditation, reflection, and comfort.”

The chapel’s features will include a library, a family room, and an outdoor garden.

“It’s in keeping beautifully with the emphasis that we have at Children’s Mercy Hospital on the psycho, social , and spiritual aspects of a child and a family going through the healthcare experience,” Dr. O’Donnell said at the groundbreaking. “It is so important to provide that emotional stability and support, and this is going to be something like you’ve never seen before. It’s going to be fantastic.”

Following an $11 million donation to the hospital from the Hall Family, the tower itself has been named in honor of the late wife of Joyce Hall, founder of Hallmark Card Inc.

“My father had a lot of recognitions and deservedly so. He has a name on many things. That’s great. But my mother has not,” Don Hall, the Halls’ son, observed at the groundbreaking. “Mother was not one to seek out recognition. She was very comfortable in the background…”

“…Mother wasn’t directly involved in Children’s Mercy Hospital, but she had a tremendous love of children, and that makes this recognition extremely appropriate,” Hall later added. “We’re not sure she’d want this recognition, but we’re sure we want to recognize her, simple because she deserves it.”

The Elizabeth Ann Hall Patient Tower will be completed in 2012.

-by Patricia Chaney and Pete Fernbaugh

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