The University held a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday for the 1.1 million square-foot C.S. Mott Children’s and Women’s Hospital.

Mike Hulsebus
Courtesy of University Health Services

The groundbreaking signaled the beginning of construction, but demolition of the parking lot currently on the site won’t begin until later this year.

The new hospital is scheduled to open in 2011.

The groundbreaking began with a celebration in the courtyard of the hospital, with activities like kite flying and an arts-and-crafts area where children decorated hats and banners for patients in the current hospital’s children’s ward.

Visitors also toured parts of the new hospital by way of a computer-animated design of the hospital’s new facilities. The hospital will have 264 private rooms, 12 beds in the Intensive Care Unit for parents to stay overnight with their children, 16 pediatric operating rooms, special ventilation systems for children with liver, kidney and bone marrow transplants, 30 birthing rooms and a two-story lobby with a family resource center.

The hospital will be made up of two towers: one nine-story structure for clinic space and one 12-story inpatient complex located across from Mary Markley Residence Hall overlooking Nichols Arboretum.

University Regent David Brandon said the hospital will be significant for two major reasons.

The hospital will conduct world-renowned research and will be the center for patient care in the Midwest, Brandon said.

“People throughout the country will fly in to be treated at this hospital,” he said.

Several campus leaders spoke at the groundbreaking, including University President Mary Sue Coleman, Laurie Carr -wife of head football coach Lloyd Carr – and Doug Strong, director and chief executive officer of the University Hospital and Health Centers.

As part of the ceremony, Brandon and Carr climbed into construction machinery and started the engines. As they did, a banner displaying an image of the hospital rose and the Boy’s Choir of Ann Arbor began to sing.

Valerie Castle, chair of pediatrics and the hospital’s chief physician, expects the new hospital to be in the highest echelon of healthcare and one of the University’s most prominent facilities.

“There are very few communities with a world-class women and children’s hospital,” she said. “This facility will be a jewel in the crown of the state of Michigan.”

Hospital leaders conceived the idea for the new $523-million hospital more than a decade ago, but financial support and design plans did not materialize until four years ago.

So far, the hospital’s fundraising committee – co-chaired by Brandon, his wife and the Carrs – has raised $49 million toward the project. The campaign has gone so well that hospital leaders decided to raise the fundraising goal from $50 million to $75 million.

Contributions to the new hospital include a number of large donations from private groups and individual donors. Twenty-five million dollars from the C.S. Mott Foundation in Flint is the largest donation to date.

In September, Brandon and his wife Jan gave $2 million to the hospital, which saved the lives of their newborn twin sons in 1980. In honor of the donation, the neonatal intensive care unit will carry the names of Brandon’s sons Nick and Chris.

The new children’s emergency medical center will be named after emergency medicine entrepreneur Ernest Sorini and his wife Kelly, who donated $7 million to the project. Hospital reserves will provide the remainder of the funds.

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