Let's Make The Dream Of A New Children's Hospital A Reality - And Response (2)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I have worked at T.C.Thompson Children’s Hospital since 1986. When I started, the current building was only 11 years old. Over the last 28 years, the pediatric patient population has increased, technology has improved, and physician practices have become more specialized. 

The space has not changed. There have been multiple renovation projects to the current hospital, but the patient rooms are the same size today as they were in 1975. The PICU bed spaces are inadequate for all the newest most up to date technologies. Parents have no place to stay with their critically ill children, and the waiting room is extremely small. Every inch of square footage has been designated for patient care use. Storage space is limited, and nurses get creative moving items on a daily basis. 

There is a large oncology population in our region. These kids are placed in specialized patient rooms, but could definitely use their own floor, with specialized pharmacy, nurses, treatment areas, and playrooms. We need more patient rooms for the acutely ill, we need a technology dependent unit for that increasing population, and an observation unit would be an asset for both patient flow and surgical services. The bottom line is we could fill a brand new hospital today with the needs and wants of patients, their families, and the staff.

Chattanooga is a city that rises to challenges and critical needs. A new Children’s Hospital for our region is both. We need a safe, fun, non-threatening space to care for the children of our region. We need large rooms, bright common areas, and outdoor patios and play places for both the patients and the staff. 

We have the best, and brightest pediatric doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and specialized staff of any children’s hospital in the Southeast. We just need a new hospital to make it even better. In the movie “Field of Dreams”, the quote was “If we build it, they will come”.  Please Chattanooga..Help us make our dream a reality.

Lori K. Atchley, RN, PICU 


* * * 

Why should the city pick up the tab for building a new facility?  Does the city own T.C. Thompson? 

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against a new facility.  I just think it is wrong for private industry to expect the government to take money from its own citizens to improve a facility.  I also don’t believe the city should own T.C. Thompsons.

Thank you,

Robert Harvey

* * * 

In response to Mr. Harvey’s comments, I would like to clarify several statements on behalf of the Erlanger Foundations.  First, Erlanger is not asking the city and/or county to “pick up the tab” for a new facility.  Instead, Erlanger would raise the money from a combination of philanthropy and long-term debt, such as a mortgage loan.  This is how 99 percent of the children’s hospitals in the U.S. are funded. 

In essence, the city does not “own” Erlanger.  It’s a county facility that is “not for profit” and basically belongs to everyone in the community.  

We agree with Mr. Harvey that “it is wrong for private industry to expect the government to take money from its own citizens to improve a facility.”  We agree and are not asking for that to happen. 

Moreover, we also agree with the statement, “I also don’t believe the city should own T.C. Thompsons.”  Ideally Erlanger should ultimately be a “public benefit corporation” that not only stands on its own financial strength but also receives some compensation for the care it provides to those who have no ability to pay for care. 

Jim Levine
Children’s Hospital at Erlanger Foundation Board

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