Massachusetts state health officials have finally approved on Thursday the expansion of the Boston Children’s Hospital. The project will cost up to $1 billion and will be completed only by the year 2020.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health, more specifically, the Public Health Council, voted on October 20 to finally approve the somewhat controversial expansion of the Children’s Hospital. The council voted 10-0 in favor of the expansion but also imposes certain conditions on the hospital that will lead in various penalties if the expansions costs are not kept within the accepted limit. Their decision was influenced in part by the support of Governor Charlie Baker.
The Children’s Hospital wants to use $1 billion budget to construct a new 11-story building on the Longwood campus. The project also involves the renovation of the campus and the construction of a new outpatient center and ambulatory services in Brookline. The new building will add up to 71 new beds to the 404 existing patient beds. It will also include a new cardiac center, a neonatal intensive care unit and more operating rooms.
Despite the fact that the new building of the Children’s Hospital is officially set to open in 2020, a state report indicated that the expansion and all of its plan renovations won’t be actually completed until 2025. Hospital officials did not provide a detailed timeline of the plans as of yet.
The expansion project drew the opposition of several groups arguing against the construction of a new building from several positions. A group wanted to prevent the expansion because it meant the destruction of a small outdoor garden in order to make room for the building.
Other groups with stronger opposition to the project argued that it would undermine the state’s effort to keep the current levels of medical spending. The Massachusetts Association of Health Plans together with representatives from smaller competing hospitals argued that the expansion of the Children’s Hospital will increase the cost of healthcare for patients and even negatively impact the business of other hospitals.
The groups that opposed the expansion rallied outside the State House during the hours before the vote. However, their initiative was not successful. It remains to be seen if the expansion will be kept within the budget.
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