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Hundreds gather for ribbon cutting of new WVU Medicine Children’s hospital

MORGANTOWN – Hundreds of people gathered under a giant tent in from of the new WVU Medicine Children’s hospital Saturday morning for a ribbon-cutting ceremony, followed by guided tours.

The $215 million, 150-bed hospital will accept its first patients Thursday.

WVU Medicine and state leaders assembled on a stage in front of the crowd to offer their thoughts about the achievement.

WVUM President and CEO Albert Wright talked about when he arrived in 2014 and met kids and families in Children’s who were there for care, and the staff and volunteers. Children’s was, and will be until Thursday, a separate hospital occupying a single floor in Ruby Memorial, and Wright saw the need for more.

“So I started to build this hospital in my mind’s eye the first week I was here in August 2014.”

He referenced the HGTV real estate show Love It or List It. In talking with people, he developed a list of Love It or List It must-haves: a spectacular building to be proud of now and 50 years from now; a comprehensive facility; and positive distractions for the kids and maximum comfort for the families who come to stay with their children. He got all three, he said.

The Heart Institue and Children’s are visible through the windows in the tent roof

WVU President Gordon Gee said, “This is a glorious day in the life of West Virginia,” and WVU and the children of the state.

Children’s sees 17,000 patients a year “and the demand just keeps growing,” Gee said. With the new hospital, “No child ever needs to leave the state to get great healthcare.”

WVU Hospitals President Michael Grace based his comments on the theme of the fundraising campaign – which raised more than $60 million – Hope’s New Home.

WVUM Children’s, as a healthcare home, he said, “Is the place and the people with whom one feels comfortable because they know their concerns are being heard and addressed.” It offers “hope for recovery and a brighter tomorrow.”

Children’s Chief Administrative Officer Amy Bush thanked the many people who helped make the hospital a reality and honored the 10 Miracle Children who attended the 2018 groundbreaking and returned to cut the ribbon Saturday.

A NICU room

“This is a re-dedication to our community and our whole state,” she said. “We take our mission to build a healthier future for children and expecting mothers seriously, and we are grateful to those who entrust us with their care.”

WVU Health Sciences Chancellor and Executive Dean Dr. Clay Marsh quoted playwright George Bernard Shaw, who said, “Some people see what is and say, ‘Why?’ Others dream of what was never there and say, “Why not?”

Marsh paid tribute to the many who said “Why not,” and helped build the hospital. Those included the late Dr. Bill Neal, WVU medical school alumnus, pediatric cardiologist and Children’s first medical director, starting in 1988; and Dr. Gus Gustafon, another med school alumnus, who returned to WVU in 1983 to establish an internationally recognized pediatric cardiothoracic surgery program.

Sen. Joe Manchin told crowd of officials, local leaders, donors and WVUM staff that he and his West Virginia Congressional colleagues secured $11.2 million in federal funds for the project. That was sparked by phone calls from people in Morgantown leading the charge to build it. “I’ve never had phone calls from people that were so enthusiastic.”

Dr. Gus Gustafson

Manchin listed five promises every child needs: a loving,caring adult in their life; a safe place; a healthy start in life; a livable skill; and to grow to be a loving, caring adult and give something back. “That’s what Children’s hospital is all about.”

Rep. David McKinley also opened with a quote: “Sometimes you plant a tree under which you will never stand.”

Back in the 1980s when he was in the state Legislature, he said, Gee and Jay Rockefeller came to him with a vision of a state-of-the-art medical complex that would draw doctors, nurses and researchers.”

And it’s here, he said. “This is what makes us proud to be Mountaineers wherever we are.” Turning to Gee, he said, “Now 40 years later, you have been able to stand under the tree you planted.”

Gov. Jim Justice topped off the speeches. “These kids right here are what everything is all about,” he said. “You have done it, you’ve all joined in and pulled the rope together. … This is monumental, off the chart.”

After the ribbon-cutting, the crowd lined up for guided tours. Up on the 10th floor, former WVU and NFL quarterback Jeff Hostetler – a donor who also helped lead the fundraising and was one of those who called Manchin – showed visitors the locker room-themed Hostetler Family Resource Center.

And down on the third floor, Gustafson, now retired, happened to be near the operating room named for him.

The floor directory, provided by WVUM, illustrates the theme for each floor. The first floor is called Floor 2 in order to match the levels with the adjacent Heart Institute and the walkways between them on Floors 4 and 10.

He expressed his pleasure. “Not only the building, but we’ve been able to recruit a whole lot of excellent, talented faculty. What that does, it brings in patients from all over West Virginia. It’s a very important thing for the state. This is a state resource as much as it is a university resource.”

Hospital facts

The care team includes dozens of new pediatric specialists and subspecialists in a variety of disciplines from pediatric cardiothoracic surgery to pediatric neurosurgery; a pediatric emergency department; the state’s only Level IV neonatal intensive care unit; and a spa-like birthing center.

It has four Centers of Excellence: the Blood Disorders and Cancer Center; the Critical Care and Trauma Center; the Heart Center; and the Neuroscience Center, home to the state’s only Pediatric Epilepsy Monitoring Unit and Pediatric Neuroimmunology Clinic.

The hospital also has a 17-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit with four beds for epilepsy monitoring; a 50-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with four rooms for twins; a 30-bed birthing center with 17 labor rooms, seven of those with birthing tubs; labs for cardiac catheterization, endoscopy and interventional radiology; and on-site cafeteria, gift shop, medical office building and pharmacy.

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