In South Florida, Memorial Health System is moving forward with a new children’s hospital, while in Central Florida, the long-discussed Nemours Children’s Hospital project is finally getting started.

A rendering of the new Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital facility, now under construction in Hollywood, Fla.
Image: Memorial Health Systems.
A rendering of the new Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital facility, now under construction in Hollywood, Fla.
Skanska USA Building holds a $220-million construction contract for the Nemours Children’s Hospital project in Orlando, which is targeting a 2012 completion.
Photo: Skanska USA Building.
Skanska USA Building holds a $220-million construction contract for the Nemours Children’s Hospital project in Orlando, which is targeting a 2012 completion.

Despite the national recession, and the Sunshine State’s own dismal downturn—including, of all things, population—two health systems have found there’s no time like the present to break ground on new pediatric facilities in Florida.

“This is a good time to build,” says Nina Beauchesne, administrator of Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and pediatric services for the Memorial Health System in Hollywood, Fla. “Many companies that would be subcontractors on the project need work, so the pricing is very, very good. That’s been part of the reason [to move forward].”

Memorial Health originally pegged the cost of its new 160,000-sq-ft, four-story Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital at $145 million, but now the health system anticipates a $130-million price tag.

Likewise, in Orlando, Nemours shaved $20 million off its original $400-million estimate for the 630,000-sq-ft, seven-story Nemours Children’s Hospital, something spokesperson Jarrod Cady attributes to a decrease in construction costs and changes that occurred while finalizing the design. Cady adds that Nemours has never wavered in its commitment to build the facility.

“The hospital is a tool that will allow Nemours to better serve the needs of children and without it, families will continue to be forced outside of the central Florida-region for those services that they need and deserve,” Cady says. “Delaying the hospital would only mean delaying proper care for children that need help.”

Joe DiMaggio Children’s Similarly, Memorial Health, a public health system, had planned the expansion for several years, as the pediatric hospital became increasingly busy and patients often backed up in the emergency department. Children from throughout the region seek care at the facility, including more than 2,000 transfers annually from other hospitals.

ANF Group of Cooper City, Fla., is the general contractor for the project, which has an estimated construction cost of more than $100 million. The company began demolition and site work this summer to make way for the children’s hospital, parking deck, and central energy plant and tank farm.

The facility includes ambulatory services, operating rooms and special procedures suites, radiology and outpatient facilities, a conference center and 48 single-occupancy patient rooms. Intensive care units and the emergency department and some inpatient rooms will stay in the current structure. A pedestrian bridge will connect the pediatric hospital to existing facilities.

Memorial Health plans to finance the project, primarily, from operations and also has raised more than $32 million, including donations from employees, medical staff and the community. Some money from a future bond sale may go toward the project.

“We all see the importance to make it a reality,” Beauchesne says.

Stanley Beaman & Sears of Atlanta designed the new facility. It solicited ideas from parents and older patients. The team will seek LEED-Silver certification. The health system anticipates the new facility will open in 2011.

Nemours Skanska USA Building of Orlando holds a $220-million construction contract for the Nemours project, which also designed by Stanley Beaman & Sears. The design team includes Perkins + Will of Orlando and IDEO, Palo Alto, Calif. The project features a 95-bed patient tower, emergency department, diagnostic and ambulatory care programs, education and research centers, and an outpatient clinic.

Concrete foundation work began in August. Simultaneously, a steam-driven pile driver continues to embed stone support columns, which will keep the building stable and anchored to the ground if a hurricane sweeps through.

Nemours plans to partially fund construction with cash from the Nemours Foundation and tax-exempt bonds, not yet issued. Cady does not consider the current bond market a concern, saying Nemours will modify the financing mix based on market conditions.

“One way or another, it will get done,” Cady says.

The project team seeks LEED certification and anticipates a summer 2012 completion.

“Nemours Children’s Hospital is a critical component in our strategy to become ranked in the top 5% of child health institutions in the nation by 2015,” Cady says. “This facility will become an essential ingredient of our integrated system of care, making service delivery in Florida sustainable well into the future.”

Nemours is the first of two planned hospitals at Lake Nona, a community within the Orlando city limits. The developer, Tavistock Group of Orlando, is creating a medical city, which will include the $53-million University of Central Florida College of Medicine, now under construction by Balfour Beatty of Plantation, Fla.; a $717-million Dept. of Veterans Affairs medical center; and the recently completed $55-million Burnham Institute for Medical Research, built by BE&K Building Group of Maitland, Fla.

Wrapping Up Many health-care projects in the state are wrapping up or were completed in 2009.

Bovis Lend Lease of Tampa continues work on the $142-million, 382,000-sq-ft St. Joseph’s Hospital-North in Lutz for the BayCare Health System, which the hospital expects will open in 2010.

Skanska was scheduled to wrap up this fall the $258-million, 480,000-sq-ft, nine-story Shands Cancer Hospital at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

At Halifax Health in Daytona Beach, Robins & Morton of Birmingham, Ala., continues working on a $150-million, 540,000-sq-ft, 10-story expansion. The company also completed the $155 million Florida Memorial Medical Center, also in Daytona Beach, which opened in July.

Useful Sources:

Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital

Nemours Children’s Hospital