New Children's Hospital costs rise by $21 million

BY ALEX SHEETS | JUNE 07, 2012 6:30 AM

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Costs continue to rise as plans for the new University of Iowa Children's Hospital.

With six additional floors tacked to the building — which will now have 14 stories — the construction cost has increased by $21 million, bringing the current total to $292 million.

The state Board of Regents approved the revised construction costs during a meeting Wednesday in the IMU.

"[The hospital will] consolidate all the children's services in a child-friendly environment," said Thomas Scholz, the interim head of the Pediatrics Department and interim physician-in-chief. "It will be a compatible area that will allow kids to enjoy an area … more like a children's museum."

The Federal Aviation Administration originally only allowed for eight floors in the original layout — because of the proximity of the Iowa City Municipal Airport — but upon further consideration, six additional floors were permitted.

The additional floors correlate into an increase in costs. The two additional shelled floors are empty levels below ground that will permit further expansion. Eleven floors are above ground, and the top level is a rooftop terrace.

UI officials expect the building will open in March 2016, and construction is expected to start in October.

The project will be funded with the UI Hospital & Clinics' revenue bonds, hospital gift funds, and UIHC building-use funds.

The hospital will be the first of three buildings in the Kinnick Stadium area, the other two being patient towers. The patient towers — yet to be approved or begin development — will make single-patient rooms available for adults at the UIHC.

The new hospital includes equipment improvements such eight operating rooms.

"[The equipment] will be similar, but the way it's presented will be more kid-friendly," Scholz said.

The current pediatric staff will move to the new facility upon its completion.

The current Children's Hospital has a maximum capacity of 165 beds; the new facility will hold 195 beds. The increase will lead to an increase in hospital staff. There will also be an increase in staff for the procedure rooms, operational rooms, gift shop, and cafeteria.

Traffic studies have been completed and a new underground parking structure is being developed to improve accessibility and access to the buildings, according to a UI Hospitals & Clinics report.

Ken Kates, the chief executive officer of the UIHC, said nearly all of the organization has seen growth financially.

"We have had significant growth over last year," he said. Likewise, the Pediatrics Department saw a 6 percent growth in clinical visits and a shorter length of stay for patients in the last year.

The committee for the Children's Hospital has a master plan for the next 20 years. The patient towers, while not part of the initial development, are a goal for the near future.

Regent Katie Mulholland said she was pleased with the updated plans for the hospital.

"This really is a standup project," she said.

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