Patients of Shriners Hospitals for Children and representatives from Shriners and Washington University Medical Center broke ground Wednesday, March 20, on a $50 million hospital on the medical center campus.
The planned hospital, on 3.75 acres at the corner of Clayton Road and Newstead Avenue, will replace the 50-year-old Shriners Hospital in Frontenac. This will be the third building to house a Shriners Hospitals for Children-St. Louis. The first opened in 1924 at the corner of Euclid Avenue and Clayton.
The move is expected to further enhance clinical care and research collaborations with Washington University School of Medicine, with which Shriners has had a longstanding partnership since the early 1920s. Most of the hospital’s medical staff – 57 physicians, including Chief of Staff Perry L. Schoenecker, MD – are Washington University faculty physicians.
In a brief address before the groundbreaking, Larry J. Shapiro, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, extolled the enduring relationship between Shriners and the university, the shared concern for the welfare of children and “the desire to provide the very best patient care possible.
“That shared commitment hasn’t changed or wavered in the ensuing 90 years,” Shapiro added. “We look forward to working together for at least the next 90 years.”
Plans for the 90,000-square-foot hospital include 12 inpatient beds, three surgical suites, and 18 clinic examination rooms. It also will have enhanced space for a clinical research center for metabolic bone diseases and more room for same-day surgery patients. Also included will be nine rooms for outpatient family housing, a state-of-the-art interactive and educational activity area and dedicated space for collaborative research with Washington University scientists. The facility is expected to be completed by the end of 2014 or early 2015.
“The closer Shriners Hospital is to the resources of not only Washington University School of Medicine but also St. Louis Children’s Hospital as well other BJC facilities and services, the more effective we can be in providing care to our children and more fully collaborate in the research and education that is the hallmark of the medical center,” said Ted Dearing, chairman of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Board of Governors.
Groundbreaking ceremonies typically feature executives and officials of an organization, but this groundbreaking had a group of patient ambassadors take over the ceremony in a surprise “coup” to thank the Shriners and staff members who worked on the project.
Those patients included Marcia Steinmetz of Florissant and Marianne Hedgcoth of Lonedell, two sisters in their 50s who were treated years ago at Shriners for club foot. They were the first siblings admitted to the hospital at the same time. Also participating were Malia Gall, 9, of Catawissa, who has had numerous surgeries due to pseudoarthritis, and Clayton Miller, 14, of Leasburg, who has had 74 surgeries for scoliosis.
“We are taking over this ceremony today because we want to be sure that all the grown-ups here know that we, the patients of Shriners Hospitals for Children, understand how hard you have worked on the new hospital,” said Morgan Swanner, 13, of Edwardsville, who was born with one arm. “It’s finally our turn to thank you.”
Added Madelyn Hubbs, 12, of Maryland Heights: “Our parents and our caregivers have told us how hard you’ve worked and what a labor of love it has been to make a new, more modern hospital that’s even more welcoming for patients — and a hospital our outstanding doctors and nurses deserve.”
The patients participated in the groundbreaking with Imperial Potentate of Shriners International Alan W. Madsen, and past Imperial Potentate and current chairman of the national Board of Trustees for Shriners Hospitals for Children, Douglas E. Maxwell of Chesterfield. Among those invited to speak at the ceremony were Shapiro and BJC Group President Lee Fetter.
Added Maxwell: “This is truly a win-win opportunity for Shriners Hospitals for Children, Washington University School of Medicine and, more importantly, the children we treat.”
In all, there are 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children — 20 in the United States and one each in Canada and Mexico. The hospitals provide orthopaedic, burn and spinal cord injury care. The organization’s St. Louis hospital specializes in orthopaedic care.