Rising up: Nemours expands its Orlando children's hospital
The $400-million Nemours Children’s Hospital in Central Florida opened in October 2012, one of the first and most important cornerstones in the health-and-wellness cluster that has emerged at the Tavistock Group’s Lake Nona development in south Orlando. Since then, the 100-bed hospital has treated more than 170,000 children and operates at about 60% occupancy.
Now, Nemours is getting ready to finish the facility — both physically and philosophically.
Physically, Nemours is embarking on a $21.7-million expansion in which it will build out the unfinished sixth floor atop the 630,000-sq.-ft. hospital. The project will add another 30 beds, all of which will be critical-care capable and enable the hospital to handle more cardiac and other critical-care patients. A cardiac operating room and a catheterization lab will be added to the sixth floor, which together will open up the hospital’s existing cardiac rooms for other procedures.
Altogether, Nemours will add 40,000 square feet of working space and 60 full-time employees, including both clinical and non-clinical positions. Nemours expects the project — currently being designed — will take about two years to complete.
Philosophically, Nemours is also completing the hospital’s mission to become a true academic medical center — with a three-fold mission combining clinical work, research and education — by adding a pediatric residency program for training doctors. Nemours plans to welcome its first class of 12 residents in July 2019; the hospital expects to eventually have 36 pediatric residents on site working in classes of 12 for a three-year residency.
Work on the program is already well underway. This spring, Nemours’ residency program won accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. It will begin recruiting medical students for its first class this fall and plans to eventually bring in roughly 180 for interviews.
Nemours’ focus over the next few years will be on successfully launching a general pediatric residency program. But it intends to eventually expand into pediatric subspecialty fellowships, says Dr. Heather Fagan, a critical-care pediatrician whom Nemours recruited from the University of Chicago to lead the development of its graduate medical education programs.
One goal, Fagan says, is to build a pipeline of talent to help fill a shortage of pediatric specialists in Central Florida. Studies have found that roughly 60% of doctors wind up practicing within 100 miles of where they did their residencies.
“It’s a great recruitment tool, if it is done well,” Fagan says. “We really are looking to advocate for children and advance the field of pediatric medicine in a really robust way.”