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Patient Ambassadors Help Break Ground on New Shriners Hospital

The $50 million dollar center is expected to open two blocks from BJC Hospital in two years.

Who says you can't go home?

Almost 90 years after Shriners Hospital for Children built their first complex next to the Washington University School of Medicine, ground was broken Wednesday for a new replacement hospital on a parking lot at Clayton and Newstead avenues, just two blocks from the original site and in the shadows of BJC Hospital.

The new facility will be visible from I-64/40.

Patient ambassadors of Shriners Hospitals for Children helped turned the first spades of earth for the $50 million replacement hospital on the campus of Washington University School of Medicine Wednesday.

The patients broke ground along with Imperial Potentate of Shriners International, Alan W. Madsen, and local Shriner, Past Imperial Potentate and current Chairman of the national Board of Trustees for Shriners Hospitals for Children, Douglas E. Maxwell, of Chesterfield, MO.

Groundbreaking ceremonies typically feature executives and officials of an organization, but at Wednesday’s event, the Patient Ambassadors of the hospital took over the ceremony in a surprise “coup” – in order to thank all the Shriners and staff members who worked on the project.

The patients invited a number of officials to speak at the ceremony, including Ted Dearing, local hospital chairman; Dr. Larry Shapiro, dean of the Washington University School of Medicine; Lee Fetter, group president, BJC HealthCare as well as top ranking officials of Shriners International, Madsen and Maxwell.

The new facility

The planned facility, located on 3.75 acres at the corner of Clayton and Newstead, will replace the current 50-year-old hospital located in Frontenac. This will be the third facility for Shriners Hospitals for Children in St. Louis, having originally opened in 1924. (The original building is still in use today by Washington University and is located at the corner of Euclid and Clayton.)

The move is expected to further enhance clinical care and research collaborations with Washington University School of Medicine, with which Shriners has had a long-standing partnership since the early 1920s. Most of the hospital’s medical staff—57 physicians, including Chief of Staff Perry L. Schoenecker, M.D.—are Washington University faculty physicians.

Plans for the new 90,000 square foot hospital include 12 inpatient beds, three surgical suites, and 18 clinic examination rooms. It also features enhanced space for its clinical research center for metabolic bone diseases and more room for same-day surgery patients.

Other additions to benefit patients are nine rooms for outpatient family housing, a state of the art interactive and educational activity area and dedicated space for collaborative research with Washington University scientists.

The hospital has retained two local firms in the planning and construction of this new facility: architectural firm Christner designed the facility and S. M. Wilson & Co. is the construction management firm.

Officials at S. M. Wilson report that the facility has a 20-month construction schedule. Wilson anticipates employing 100 tradesmen for 350,000 man hours on the project.

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