Children’s Wisconsin increases scope of expansion project

A rendering of the Children's Wisconsin planned expansion.

Last updated on November 3rd, 2020 at 01:17 pm

A planned emergency department and Level 1 trauma center on the Children’s Wisconsin main campus will be expanded and moved to the front of the hospital, the health system announced Friday.

The expansion project was first announced in 2018 as part of a multi-year facilities improvement project.

The updated plans for the campus expansion, including a six-story addition for specialty clinics and surgical services that started in 2018, are estimated to cost $385 million, up from initial projections of $265 million.

Children’s Wisconsin said it identified in the design process an opportunity to build a new space near the main hospital entrance rather than renovate the existing department, which will allow for easier access for families.

The new emergency department, which will increase capacity from 34 treatment rooms to 48 rooms, is expected to open in late 2023.

“The current emergency department is in the same footprint as when the hospital opened in 1988,” said Amy Drendel, medical director of the emergency department at Children’s Wisconsin. “The new space will improve family access and help ensure that Children’s Wisconsin continues to be one of the leading pediatric emergency departments in the country that families can rely on.”

Children’s said it has planned and budgeted for the capital improvements, including with bond financing, and philanthropic support will influence programs, services and amenities in the new spaces.

“The generosity of donors allows Children’s to provide programs in innovative ways and to provide services that are not self-sustaining,” said Meg Brzyski Nelson, president of the Children’s Wisconsin Foundation. “The experience families will have in this new space will be better because of their support.”

The project has received a $4 million donation from the Ladish Co. Foundation and a $1 million gift from the Jendusa family. Portions of those gifts will be directed to create four rooms designed to support kids experiencing a mental health crisis. The special unit will be supported by a new mental and behavioral health crisis team, which was established earlier this year with a $2.5 million donation from the United Health Foundation.

“This community is fortunate to have an independent children’s hospital that is recognized as one of the best in the country,” said Wayne Larsen, a trustee with the Ladish Co. Foundation. “Children’s Wisconsin is committed to adapting and growing to meet the needs of our community and we are happy our gift is helping the kids of Wisconsin today.”

The Ladish Co. Foundation, United Health Foundation and Jendusa family donations support Children’s Wisconsin’s $150 million plan to address the mental and behavioral health needs of kids in Wisconsin.

Children’s is working with architect CannonDesign and general contractor Boldt Company on the expansion project.

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