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WVU Medicine Children’s celebrates one year in new hospital

One year ago, the first patients moved into the brand new WVU Medicine Children’s. Since opening the doors of the state-of-the-art hospital, doctors, nurses and staff have made strides in providing previously hard-to-access pediatric healthcare to families across the state.

Amy Bush, chief administrative officer for WVU Medicine Children’s, said the one-year milestone was “a dream come true.”

“It’s hard to believe that we’re coming up on our one-year birthday,” Bush said. “Our mission is to build healthier futures for our children and that mission would not be possible without our new hospital, so it’s just really amazing.”

To celebrate the milestone, staff members joined patients and their families on Thursday morning for a birthday breakfast party complete with balloons, party hats, cupcakes and a special visit from Musket, the official friend of the Mountaineer Mascot.

With 150 rooms and 1,500 staff members, the hospital is equipped to host patients for a variety of reasons including emergency care, surgery, the highest level of neonatal care, a heart program and a cancer program, to name a few. They also strive to make a hospital stay as comfortable as possible for both patients and their families.

WVU Medicine Children’s Associate Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jeffrey Lancaster said the hospital staff are there to help to take care of the families and patients and comfort them. From helping to ease the fears of kids getting testing or procedures, to an entire family resource center on the 10th floor where families can wash clothes, grab drink and snacks or just sit and decompress, the hospital is designed to make it feel a little more like home.

“You are going to come to a hospital that truly loves you and your children. We are people who have a calling to take care of sick kids,” Lancaster said. “When you get here you are going to feel it – you’re going to see it when you walk in through the atrium and from the first person you meet at that desk, you’re going to know that your kids are in a good place.”

In just the first 100 days after opening, WVU Medicine Children’s performed 1,829 surgeries and procedures, birthed 625 babies and completed 15,523 pediatric clinic appointments.

From its opening day on Sept. 29, 2022, to the beginning of September 2023, the hospital has increased those numbers to 6,870 surgeries and procedures, 2,275 births and 52,503 pediatric clinic appointments. First-year numbers include 11,615 emergency department visits, 57,164 room turnovers and 7,811 inpatient unit discharges.

As the Morgantown-based facility grows, WVU Medicine Children’s continues to create a statewide healthcare network focusing on care closer to where patients live.

“Our goal was that the children of this state and the surrounding region would never have to leave the state for care, but also that we would have WVU Medicine Children’s around the system, so our system hospitals and clinics could offer care to kids close to home. We keep growing that too. All in all, we’re one big family,” Bush said.

“We also want to focus on the health and wellness,” she said. “That’s the importance of having WVU Medicine Children’s across the state so the things that are preventative – wellness and those sports physicals – so that people have a place to go close to home.”

Growing up in rural West Virginia, Lancaster said healthcare in the state has long been underserved – particularly for children.

“It’s a great big deal. This hospital is something the children of West Virginia have never had, and it’s been pretty busy since we started,” he said.

“Everything that we do, every meeting that we have, and every project we undertake is aimed toward improving the health of our children,” Lancaster said. “Even though our new hospital is celebrating its first birthday, the children’s hospital itself is a gift. It is a gift that the children in our state and region have been very deserving of, but never received.”

In order to reach this milestone, Bush believes the support of the community was crucial to helping raise funds to open the children’s hospital as well as “the hard work of our healthcare team members, our board, and our leadership team.”

“There’s a saying that there’s no greater gift than health. So, there’s no greater privilege than to be entrusted to help care for the kids who are our future,” Bush said. “I tell the team often that it takes great places, but it takes great people to build those great programs and this team has been part of a legacy to help build those healthier futures and it’ll last for generations to come – no greater gift.”