RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — From cancer treatment to behavioral health, a hospital dedicated entirely to treating children is in the works here in North Carolina.
UNC Health CEO, Dr. Wesley Burks, says the new North Carolina Children’s Hospital, which is a partnership with the state, will bring top pediatric specialists, cutting edge research, and a specific focus on children’s physical and mental health to our state.
“Our vision is to build a freestanding world-class hospital,” Burks noted.
He says the hospital is needed for the growing population and it can really make a difference for patients and their families to have a hospital designed specifically for kids.
“Everybody that works there is there to take care of a child or an adolescent,” he explained. “In another larger hospital, they are there, but that’s not why they came necessarily, and this is a place that the sole focus is taking care of kids and adolescents.”
Right now, children’s hospitals in North Carolina are part of larger hospitals with patients of all ages.
“There may be a specialty where there are maybe two or three physicians; they really can’t have more than that because of the size of the hospital,” noted Burks. He says a dedicated children’s hospital can bring in more specialized doctors. “You can have 10, or 12, or 15 in a specialty, have even specialties within specialties,” he said. “They don’t need to go out of state to get that really complex care that we should be able to provide here.”
Burks hopes to see 400-500 pediatric beds plus another 100 for behavioral health. The exact location of the hospital hasn’t been determined, but Burks says it will be somewhere in the Triangle.
Legislators included $320 million dollars in the state budget for the hospital, but there is still a lot of money to raise.
“That amount of money they put into it is a huge amount of money, and we’re thankful,” said Burks. “It’s a project that will cost 2 1/2 billion dollars.”
He hopes the hospital can open in the next 8-10 years. It’s expected to bring thousands of jobs to the area.
“There’ll be over 3,000 jobs created,” Burks said. “It’s an economic investment as well as a healthcare investment.”