Akron Children’s Marks 7 Years With Groundbreaking

BOARDMAN, Ohio – Seven years to the day that it opened its doors to families, Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley began one of its largest expansions yet in a way familiar to anyone who’s visited the hospital’s campus.

They made it about the kids.

Before and after the groundbreaking ceremony, families and children – not just patients, but those from the community as well – were welcomed for book giveaways, cookie decorating, Christmas carols and, after the Christmas tree lighting, a visit from Santa Claus.

“It’s an evening of celebration, of starting a new chapter, of celebrating the kids and an evening of thanksgiving. This season is a time when you can pause a bit and reflect on your blessings,” said Akron Children’s Hospital President and CEO Bill Considine. “When we look at the blessings our caregivers get through contact with the families and what our services can do for children, there’s a lot to be thankful for here tonight.”

As for the groundbreaking itself, Considine, along with Akron Children’s Mahoning Valley vice president Sharon Hrina and Bruce Beeghly – whose family donated the land the hospital is built on – welcomed the children to be the first to flip mulch with child-sized red, blue and yellow shovels. Even after Santa arrived and the tree was lit, some children and parents returned outside to play in the specially-built sandbox.

The project, Hrina said, is expected to take about 18 months and add 47 exam rooms, nine special procedure rooms and a sports medicine rehab center to Building A, the building closest to Market Street. All services at Akron Children’s Hospital location on McClurg Road, with the exception of the neonatal intensive care unit, will be consolidated at the Beeghly Campus

“It means that we’re once again making an investment in our children. We try to design our facilities through the eyes of a child and try to make sure our policies are done through the eyes of a child,” Considine said. “When you can make this investment and bring health care closer to children and their families, everyone wins.”

Beeghly also took note of what the hospital has accomplished thus far and what the expansion means for the community.

“I think back to seven years ago when we were getting ready to build this and I couldn’t have imagined the growth that’s taken place. Akron Children’s Mahoning Valley has truly become a premier pediatric hospital,” he said. “This expansion demonstrates their commitment to the Mahoning Valley. This is a facility that we’ll be fortunate to have and that we can all be very proud of. With the next phase, it can only continue to get better.”

In early October, the hospital withdrew its zoning request for the expansion after residents of Romaine Avenue immediately north of the campus voiced complaints concerning noise and parking underneath high-tension power lines.

Since then, Hrina said, the hospital has met with residents and resolved the issues.

“We heard their concerns, had a community meeting and our architects came back with another plan to shift the parking lot,” she said. “When we took that to the families, they were very comfortable with that and supported it when we went back to the zoning board.”

The initial budget for the project was $18.6 million, but with the relocation of the parking lot, that cost will rise, Hrina added.

“It’ll be a one-stop shop. Right now, families oftentimes have to move between the two campuses. With the expansion, everything will be right here and enhance the patient experience

Another aspect of the project includes redoing the entrance to the campus, Hrina said, and making it easier to navigate through the area.

“It will provide a single entrance for people and eliminate some of the confusion since we have so many entrances and so many buildings on the campus,” she said.

Local contractors and subcontractors will be used for the project, some of whom were beginning to prepare the sight before the groundbreaking Thursday night.

“They’re all excited,” Hrina said. We’ll see a lot of activity over the next 10 or so days and hopefully with this weather we can get started soon.”

As children and their families began to file inside after the ceremony, Considine said that seven years ago, he knew something like this was a possibility.

“We knew there was magic to this community and magic to Akron Children’s Hospital, but our expectations have been far surpassed,” he said. “The way everyone has embraced what we do and become part of our team has brought excitement to all of us. You can feel it in the air here. You can’t miss it.”

Pictured: Participating in the groundbreaking are Bob Medziuch, vice president, Hasenstab Architects; Mike Gentile and Eric Harmon, Murphy Contracting Co.;  Scott Radcliff, Hasenstab Architects; Jason Mayes, Murphy Contracting Co.; Sharon Hrina, Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley; and Bill Considine, president/ CEO, Akron Children’s Hospital.

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