Williamson County loves kids. In fact, the area boasts some of the top schools, family activities and sports programs in the nation. Fortunately, health care is no exception. Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital Vanderbilt at Williamson Medical Center specializes in 24-hour emergency and inpatient care for the region’s youngest patients.
Meeting a Need
“We’d been floating the idea of children’s hospital around for 10 years, and Vanderbilt Children’s has an easily recognizable brand name in Middle Tennessee,” says Williamson Medical Center CEO Don Webb. “We worked with the hospital, Vanderbilt University and the Monroe Carell family to use their trademark, and offer a high-quality product they’d be glad to put their name on.”
With 185 beds and growing, WMC sees more than 6,000 pediatric patients in its emergency room annually. In the past, some of the more critical patients were transferred to Nashville. So it’s not surprising that local pediatricians were big supporters of the project and the ability to treat kids closer to home.
With one of the county’s largest peds practices, 501(c)(3) Mercy Community Healthcare treats 34,000 patients from 21 counties each year. CEO David Winningham says the children’s hospital is a tremendous boost to the growing community.
“Our doctors are very excited as they see a lot of emergent care at our facility,” Winningham says. “Our goal is better health-care coverage for the community, and we complement each other, from the primary care side and Williamson from the acute.”
Emergency Care Close to Home
While the Vanderbilt partnership provides board-certified emergency room physicians and pediatric hospitalists, the new facility is actually a project of WMC, from staffing to funding. The addition was part of a $52 million expansion that includes a pediatric emergency room with designated sick- and well-child waiting areas, eight exam rooms and equipment geared specifically for children. Upstairs, a 16-bed inpatient pediatric unit is staffed by specially trained nurses.
A Hospital for Kids and Parents
WMC COO Julie Miller says planners worked with focus groups comprising staff, community members, parents and former patients to identify services most needed in a kid-friendly facility. Hand-painted murals by local artists depict familiar Williamson County scenes, from historic Main Street to lush pastures and horse farms. In the lobby, hand-carved sculptures bring the great outdoors in. Research stations and a café within the secure unit help parents unwind while remaining close to their child. A healing garden helps ease the child’s mind, while fun details like multicolor lighting allow the patient to change the color of his room with the flip of a switch.
“When children are in the hospital, they can lose a sense of control,” Miller says. “We’re giving some of that back in every way we can.”
Williamson Medical Center’s commitment to kids is reflected outside the hospital as well. In 2014, WMC and CoolSprings Galleria unveiled a new children’s play area in the Franklin mall featuring a new theme, new play structures and amenities for adults as well. Much like the hospital, the play area is a nod to downtown Franklin and Williamson County and incorporates familiar landmarks and features.