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MUSC breaks ground on $385M children’s hospital

Ashley Heffernan
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The new MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital is set to be built on this site at the corner of Courtenay Drive and Calhoun Street in downtown Charleston. (Photo/Ashley Heffernan)

The Medical University of South Carolina broke ground on its $385 million children’s hospital Friday and announced that $102 million has been raised so far to pay for it.

When the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion opens in 2019, it will be the largest, most comprehensive health care facility for mothers and children in the state of South Carolina and the region, MUSC President Dr. David Cole said.

“Imagine what’s going to rise from that place, the impact that it’s going to have for our children in the future,” Cole said. “It will, without question, change the landscape of health care in South Carolina for future generations to come.”

He said more than two dozen families of children who were patients in the existing MUSC Children’s Hospital spent two years meeting with architects, doctors, nurses and other health care providers to help shape the new hospital’s floor plans, amenities and even the number of electrical sockets in each room. The idea, he said, is for the facility to provide family-centered care.

Shawn Jenkins (center in pink tie) helps break ground Friday on the new children's hospital that will bear his name. (Photo/Ashley Heffernan)The new hospital, to be built at the corner of Courtenay Drive and Calhoun Street in downtown Charleston, will have one floor devoted to the care of children with cancer.

“In fact, we put the cancer floor on the top level so those patients can have what will be the best view of Charleston,” Cole said.

The hospital will also have the largest, most advanced pediatric heart center in the state and an expanded neonatal intensive care unit.

“It will be one of only three NICUs in the United States of America where mothers and newborns, postpartum, will be together,” Cole said.

Additionally, he said each patient floor will include a child-life room filled with toys, games, books and art supplies for patients to “just be a child.” An atrium with an outdoor playground will be built on the seventh floor.

Last year, Shawn Jenkins, co-founder and CEO of Daniel Island-based Benefitfocus, donated $25 million toward the new hospital. In return, the MUSC Board of Trustees unanimously voted to name the hospital in his honor. As of last week, $102 million had been raised, including a recent $2 million pledge from Spirit Communications.

Jenkins said he was inspired to get involved after watching a television interview with golf legend Arnold Palmer. In the interview, according to Jenkins, Palmer said the greatest joy of his life was the work he and his wife have done with the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Florida.

“I just caught a glimpse at what our lives would be like as a family,” Jenkins said.

He encouraged others to donate and said the new hospital will be more than just a building.  

“We’re building a mirror that we can look in ourselves and take measure of what we’ve done for our generation. We’re certainly building a larger family in the community of all of us as we serve,” he said. “We’re building a canvas for these kids to paint a bright future, and lastly I think, we’re building a spaceship. We’re literally building a rocket, where these kids can get in, and they can launch into a life that is going to be magnificent for them.”

Reach Ashley Heffernan at 843-849-3144.

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