Full Steam Ahead

Published on June 7th, 2019 by Christina Echegaray.

Summer 2019

When Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt opened 15 years ago, there was a little-known fact about the facility’s architectural design that made the current expansion possible.

Children’s Hospital opened in 2004 as an eight-floor building, the first freestanding pediatric facility for Middle Tennessee. Almost as quickly as the doors opened, the space was filled, as foreseen by the hospital’s namesake and planners. So, when the building was erected, it was designed to ultimately hold an additional four floors atop the existing structure.

In 2014, Children’s Hospital set out to build the four expansion floors with support from the Growing to New Heights Campaign, a philanthropic initiative, to advance the size and scope of the hospital’s specialized pediatric health programs.

In February, several significant milestones signaled the first phase of the expansion was nearing completion with the first two floors opening this year. Children’s Hospital’s grand staircase and full lobby reopened after being closed for about 14 months while construction crews added two more elevators to accommodate the increased number of patients and visitors. The two cranes hoisted alongside the building came down as the expansion exterior was complete. And the locomotive train housed on the first floor of the hospital, a favorite of children and adults, made a long-awaited return.

The grand staircase in the lobby of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital reopened after 14 months when two additional elevators were installed. Photo by Anne Rayner.

Coinciding with the grand staircase’s return, Children’s Hospital celebrated the legacy of the entire Carell family, including the memory of Monroe Carell Jr. and his wife, Ann Scott Carell. A balcony atop the staircase was named the Carell Family Balcony, recognizing the family’s enduring commitment to the health and well-being of children and families across Tennessee and beyond.

“The newly dedicated Carell Family Balcony and the return of the grand staircase have been exciting signs that we are moving closer to the opening of our first two expansion floors this year,” said Luke Gregory, Chief Executive Officer of Children’s Hospital. “We look forward to providing comprehensive, quality care to even more children. We are forever grateful to the Carell family and the entire community for making this expansion a reality. We look forward to celebrating the expansion opening in the fall.”

Adorning the walls of the Carell Family Balcony are two vibrant oil paintings — the first of the late Monroe Carell Jr. surrounded by a group of children, a picture created in 2003 by Ann Street; and the second newly added painting, of Ann Scott Carell with her dog, Juliette, on her lap, painted in 2018 by Michael Shane Neal.

“Mr. Carell’s vision was truly the driving force behind this remarkable children’s hospital,” said John W. Brock III, MD, Surgeon-in-Chief, Director of the Division of Urology and Monroe Carell Jr. Professor. “The Carell family has been intimately involved with this hospital from the very beginning, starting with Ann and Monroe, and continuing on through their three daughters, Edie Carell Johnson, Julie Carell Stadler, Kathryn Carell Brown and their families. They are tremendously passionate about what their father and mother started. They are not only involved with funding, but they are involved with their hearts.

Children’s Hospital honored its namesake and family with a new balcony. (From left) William Johnson, Nicholas Brown, David H. Brown, Kathryn Carell Brown, Julie Carell Stadler, Edie Carell Johnson, David B. Johnson and Monroe Stadler. Photo by Anne Rayner.

“I know Ann and Monroe are smiling down on us and this community as we move another step closer to opening the first two new floors of the expansion to provide care for even more children. The Carell Family Balcony is an incredible tribute to an extraordinary legacy of passion and commitment to the health of children,” Brock said.

When the first two floors open — the 10th and 11th — Children’s Hospital will increase its total beds from 267 to 335. Patients will be moved onto the first expansion floor, dedicated to pediatric cardiac care, around the end of June, with the second floor for neonatal and pediatric intensive care set to open around the end of 2019.

Once completed, all four floors of new construction will add 160,000 square feet of additional space atop the hospital’s existing structure, bringing Children’s Hospital’s total space to more than 1 million square feet.

“Our parents believed deeply that care should extend to the whole family. They were passionate about children, and they were passionate about excellence. My sisters, our families and I are incredibly grateful for the men and women who bring this place to life, translating our parents’ passion into exceptional care for so many children and their families,” said Julie Carell Stadler, CEO of Skyway Studios and Dance Network.

“The balcony and portraits alongside each other are a very fitting way to celebrate them and their commitment to a welcoming, healing place for children. On behalf of the Carell family, we know our parents would be thrilled to see the hospital’s continued growth and the beautiful expansion we will celebrate this year, and we are honored to work alongside everyone at the hospital to carry on our parents’ legacy.”

— by Christina Echegaray