The Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU’s new Children’s Pavilion

Last week we cut the ribbon on the Children’s Pavilion. The 15-story, 640,000-square-foot facility opens to children and families later this month, bringing together nearly all pediatric outpatient services under one roof.

In 2014, 90 percent of visits to Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU were outpatient, and there’s a growing need for coordinating those services. This $200 million facility aims to meet that need, and do it in an environment designed to delight children: outdoor space, an interactive virtual river with fish and turtles that swim and giant chimes you can play.

The idea of consolidating care so that patients can easily access services reflects a change in how we – as an academic medical center – expect to deliver care in the future. We aim to provide easy access to expertise at the Children’s Pavilion and also in another new outpatient center set to open next month in Short Pump.

The VCU Health Neuroscience, Orthopaedic and Wellness Center is built around the goal of keeping patients moving. In medicine, we can sometimes be guilty of staying in our silos. The N.O.W. Center breaks that down by creating pods based on a patient’s condition – like joint health or movement disorders – rather than a physician’s specialty. With labs, x-ray and physical therapy all on site, we could get done in a single visit what might have taken multiple appointments over several days.

We’ll also sharpen our focus on the patient experience. Technology will help us determine how long a patient has to wait before being seen, and at each visit, we’ll collect their feedback on three key indicators: depression, pain and function. There’s a lot of variability in how patients are treated for the same condition. Some of that is due to patient preference, and some due to a doctor’s practice. Those three indicators will help us create consensus on what is the best approach. That’s important to patients and their doctors, of course, as well as to employers, insurers and the government.

In recent years, our state and country have been grappling with how to expand what are clearly inadequate resources for treating mental illness. A new inpatient, outpatient and research facility for the Virginia Treatment Center for Children is a part of our solution. Thanks to a $56 million state appropriation, a state-of-the art facility is being constructed and is set to open in summer 2017 on the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU Brook Road Campus. The space will enable VTCC to expand its inpatient acute services from 24 to 32 beds and triple the outpatient space for mental health services for children ages 3-17. This will be a huge help for statewide families who need urgent services for their child.

The new facility is a component of the Department of Psychiatry’s Healthy Minds Campaign that will also raise funds to expand programs and research. Joel Silverman, M.D., chair of the Psychiatry Department, tells me the campaign has been a tremendous opportunity to raise awareness of the need and demand for more quality mental health service throughout Virginia. In addition to the state appropriation, the campaign is raising an additional $15 million to expand research, education and clinical care programs. Nearly $6.5 million in private funds has been raised since the campaign kicked off in 2011. If you’d like to help, call Lynn Meyer at (804) 827-6297 or

Former Dean Jerome F. Strauss

Jerome F. Strauss, III, M.D., Ph.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System