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Tuesday, Jul 23, 2024

$1.2B Hospital Expansion Breaks Ground

HEALTHCARE: Rady Children’s Hospital Project Set to Open in 2027

Anticipating the needs of a growing community, Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego broke ground late last month (Aug. 29) on a seven-story expansion expected to cost more than $1.2 billion.

Dr. Patrick Frias
President and CEO
Rady Children’s Hospital

The 500,000-square-foot Intensive Care Unit and Emergency Services Pavilion will build upward on a constrained urban site at Frost Street and Children’s Way. It is expected to open in fall 2027.

It will be the largest construction project in the 511-bed hospital’s nearly 70-year history.

The point of the effort is to meet community needs, said Dr. Nicholas Holmes, senior vice president and COO of Rady Children’s Hospital, and the lead executive on the project. Among those needs is a greater number of children with serious illnesses requiring intensive care stays.

Emergency Room Visits Up

The hospital’s current emergency room, built during the 1990s to support 25,000 visits per year, now accommodates 100,000 visits per year.

Dr. Nicholas Holmes
Senior Vice President and COO
Rady Children’s Hospital

San Diego’s regional population grew from approximately 2.5 million in 1990 to almost 3.3 million in 2022; it is expected to grow to 3.4 million by 2035 and peak around 2042, according to data from SANDAG, the region’s planning agency. Rady Children’s Hospital also serves Imperial County and the southern part of Riverside County.

The construction comes at a time when California healthcare systems face a 2030 deadline to make hospital facilities more earthquake safe. That is driving a lot of construction in the sector, Holmes said.

The new tower is estimated to cost between $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion.

Construction costs will be supported by a $200 million pledge from Ernest and Evelyn Rady, made in 2019. California voters passed a state bond supporting children’s hospitals in 2018.

140 Beds

The construction will replace a parking lot at Children’s Way and Frost Street, and displace the original, two-story structure on the campus, which dates from the 1950s.

The new tower will double the size of the emergency department, from 46 rooms to 86, and include four operating rooms. It will also house 140 beds in its pediatric, neonatal and cardiac intensive care units.

Rooms will be single occupancy and large enough to accommodate family members for extended stays.

The tower will also include expand space for behavioral health services.

“This is a generational transformation,” Dr. Patrick Frias, president and CEO of Rady Children’s Hospital, said in a statement. “We not only need to be sized and scaled appropriately to serve our community today; we need to be built for the future to meet the complex needs of families in the decades ahead.”

The seventh floor of the tower will serve as shell space for future needs.

A new central utility plant will serve the expanded hospital campus.

ZGF is the project’s architect. Hensel Phelps is general contractor.

Working With Nature

The project will take advantage of San Diego’s climate, making use of natural light and outdoor spaces that can be accessed 12 months out of the year, Holmes said.

The new areas of the hospital will feature welcoming, child-friendly areas. The point, Holmes said, is to be childlike but not childish.

The choice of colors on the project also matter, he said. Warm colors are inviting and healing, while other colors have a tendency to make people feel agitated.

Holmes, who received his medical degree from Georgetown University Medical School 30 years ago, said that in his medical school days, he would not have envisioned himself as a COO influencing the design of healthcare facilities. It’s a great honor to be part of the process, he said.

Rady Children’s Hospital is pursuing its expansion at the same time that neighboring Sharp Memorial Hospital and the San Diego county government pursue construction projects of their own. It all requires the coordinated movement of people and equipment.

“It’s a very fine dance,” Holmes said.

Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego

PRESIDENT & CEO: Dr. Patrick Frias
BUSINESS: Pediatric medical center serving San Diego, Imperial and southern Riverside counties
EMPLOYEES: More than 5,100
WEBSITE: rchsd.org
CONTACT: 858-576-1700
NOTABLE: The hospital provided care to 281,924 children during fiscal 2022


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