Long-awaited OLOL Children’s Hospital to break ground Thursday

Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center will break ground Thursday morning on its long-awaited 350,000-square-foot Children’s Hospital, a 130-bed, state-of-the art facility that promises to attract top-flight specialists and residents to the area.

The hospital and an adjacent medical office building will be located on a 66-acre tract of hospital-owned property that runs parallel to Interstate 10 between Essen Lane and Bluebonnet Boulevard. The 95,000-square-foot office building will be four stories and will be connected to the hospital via a second-floor walkway.

“Physicians who only care for children prefer to come to a freestanding environment,” says OLOL Chief Operating Officer Terrie Sterling. “So if we want to attract physicians to Baton Rouge that we have not had in the past, the freestanding hospital and medical office building are important components of that.”

The hospital will include a dedicated emergency department with 21 beds and four triage rooms, advanced imaging with CT scanning and MRI, and a dedicated floor for inpatient and outpatient pediatric cancer treatment. OLOL Children’s Hospital will be the only St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital affiliate in the state.

The facility also will include a 30-bed pediatric intensive care unit, designated family areas on each floor, a large garden, a dining room with outdoor seating, and a family resource center to provide information to patients and families.

The estimated project cost for both the hospital and medical office building is $230 million. So far, OLOL has raised about $32 million, more than half of its $50 million goal. The hospital will finance the balance of the project through debt and savings.

“But fundraising will not stop once we reach our goal,” says hospital spokeswoman Kelly Zimmerman. “Ongoing philanthropy will be important to support programs in the future.”

Construction is expected to take about two and a half years, and the hospital is scheduled to open in fall 2018. Initially, 80 of the 130 beds will be open, but hospital officials expect volume to increase rapidly, especially as the facility attracts more specialists to the area.

“Having the freestanding hospital and medical office building attracts specialists, and having good faculty attracts residents,” says Dr. Shaun Kemmerly, OLOL Children’s Hospital Chief Medical Officer. “Residents will also choose to practice near where they train, so this will be adding pediatricians to our state, which will help improve the access issues our state currently struggles with. Ultimately, this will help elevate access to health care for children in the state of Louisiana.”