BY TINA AND WALLACE B. MILLNER and MARY AND C.M. KINLOCH NELSON | Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2012 12:05 am
The children in central Virginia need an excellent children’s hospital: a freestanding facility that consolidates all of the Richmond area’s pediatric medical care into one location. Our 250,000 children deserve a hospital that provides dedicated and comprehensive care by medical teams trained specifically to address their needs.
Research clearly proves that children’s hospitals provide safer and more efficient care. Such hospitals attract and retain the best pediatric specialists and provide opportunities to train our future health care professionals.
We all understand the fear and uncertainty of caring for a sick child. Now imagine being the parent and having to decide where to take your child in an emergency type situation. The truth is, in Richmond, you could pick the wrong hospital. You could arrive at a hospital that does not have a pediatrics department at all. You could bring your sick child to an emergency department that does not have the specialist your child needs.
Over the years, we have tried many times to build a true children’s hospital, and we have failed in each attempt. This time we must work together to create a freestanding facility that consolidates pediatric care.
Richmond is the largest metropolitan area in the United States without such a hospital for our children. In Richmond, parents often must drive their seriously ill child from hospital to hospital to get their child’s care pieced together. We now have an opportunity to change this:
¤ 250 pediatric doctors in the Richmond area signed a pledge to support the need for a freestanding, dedicated, full-service children’s hospital. The doctors who support the pledge come from all three of our health-care systems, including the chairman of pediatrics at VCU Medical Center.
¤ The Children’s Hospital Foundation is also supportive of a freestanding children’s hospital. Over the past two years, the foundation has helped fund a feasibility study and a site study and is actively working to move the project forward.
¤ Generous philanthropists already have offered to make Richmond the recipient of one of the largest gifts in history for a freestanding, community-owned and -operated children’s hospital.
¤ A project of this magnitude offers a tremendous economic benefit for the Richmond region.
¤ Most importantly, a full-service children’s hospital would greatly improve the medical care for the
children of the region and, with any luck, of the entire state and perhaps the entire Southeast.
All significant elements are aligned except for a final agreement from the administrations of the region’s major hospital systems.
We hope the Hospital Authority Board at Virginia Commonwealth University is looking at this tremendous opportunity for the city and for the university. Honest discussions concerning governance and revenue streams are needed. Without the board’s approval, the project cannot reach its full potential.
If the hospital is built with the full participation and cooperation of VCU, we can all benefit. VCU, as the academic and research arm of this new children’s hospital, will attract and retain the best faculty and staff. The region will experience a major economic benefit. The children of the region will get the care they deserve.
The donors wholeheartedly embrace a vision shared by all of the region’s leading pediatricians from all of the area’s major hospital systems. This hospital needs to be on a campus served by public transportation, near the highway and open to all of the region’s children, regardless of their financial resources.
The faculty of VCU, combined with our pediatric specialists in the community, will provide the backbone of the staff of the hospital, and their expertise will guide its work. A great hospital for a doctor is like a great laboratory for a scientist.
Building a freestanding children’s hospital means better care, better research and better outcomes for the children of this region and, ultimately, for children everywhere.
If everyone does what is right for the children, everyone will win. Better health. Better allocation of health care resources. Better research. We need to do what is right for the children!
Now is the time for action on the part of our community.
We ask you to contact your elected leaders. Contact decision makers at VCU, Bon Secours and HCA, and tell them that the Richmond region cannot afford to say no to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We cannot afford to turn down the chance to build an excellent freestanding hospital dedicated to the care of our children. Go to and sign the public petition supporting this opportunity.
A children’s hospital is essential for our children, our grandchildren and future generations. It is the right thing to do.
Let there be no more excuses.
Tina and Wallace B. Millner are community volunteers and the grandparents of 10 grandchildren; B Millner is the retired vice chairman and chief financial officer of Signet Banking Corp. Mary and C.M. Kinloch Nelson are community volunteers and the grandparents of seven grandchildren; Kinloch is a retired Richmond-area urologist.