Sacred Heart marked 50 years as Northwest Florida’s only children’s hospital by hosting a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony today for its new four-story, $85 million facility. With 126 beds, Studer Family Children’s Hospital will increase access to specialized pediatric care and put multiple services in one convenient location at 1 Bubba Watson Drive on Sacred Heart’s Pensacola campus. Patient care at the facility is scheduled to begin in May.

The new children’s hospital includes a pediatric emergency department, 72-bed neonatal intensive care unit, medical/surgical beds, observation beds, a pediatric imaging department, pharmacy, inpatient rehabilitation gym, child life playrooms, outpatient lab services and a new family-friendly dining venue. The facility is more than 150,000 square feet, with an additional 28,000 square feet of shell space to allow for future expansion.

In addition to the Ronald McDonald House adjacent to Sacred Heart’s Pensacola campus, there is also a Ronald McDonald Family Room inside the new children’s hospital. It offers a shower room, laundry room, full kitchen, dining room and large, open living room. Three bedrooms will also provide overnight accommodations in emergency situations when families need to be seconds away from children who are in critical condition.

“Sacred Heart has spent the past 50 years building our expertise in the care of children, thanks to our innovative founders, our dedicated care team and the support of our community,” said Henry Stovall, president and CEO of Sacred Heart Health System. “Today, just like the children and families we serve, Studer Family Children’s Hospital continues to grow to meet the needs of Northwest Florida families. This new phase of our journey is going to help bring the caliber of each child’s hospital experience to an exceptional level.”

The new children’s hospital is the single largest investment Sacred Heart has made in its 104-year history and the largest community-funded capital campaign of any healthcare organization in Pensacola. Sacred Heart is part of Ascension, one of the nation’s leading non-profit and Catholic health systems. Sacred Heart Health System and Ascension committed $55 million toward the project. The project has received significant community support, as well, with $29 million raised to-date from local community members and organizations of its $30 million goal. To donate towards the new Studer Family Children’s Hospital, call Sacred Heart Foundation at (850) 416-4660 or givesacredheart.com.

“This is an extraordinarily exciting day for Sacred Heart Health System and for our statewide health ministry of Ascension Florida. The new Studer Family Children’s Hospital gives us the opportunity to provide an even more sophisticated, clinically-advanced level of care to the children and families of this community in an environment of care and healing that’s exclusively designed with the unique needs of children and families in mind,” said Tom VanOsdol, president and CEO of Ascension Florida. “Generations of families have entrusted Sacred Heart with their care, especially with the specialized and personalized care of their children, and our new state-of-the-art facility will ensure that Sacred Heart continues to be the best choice for all they care they need, right here at home.”

“Ascension is fortunate to serve Northwest Florida with the region’s only hospital solely dedicated to the care of sick and injured babies and children,” said Joseph R. Impicciche, JD, MHA, president and chief operating officer of Ascension. “This care ties back to our Mission which calls us to care for all, especially those most in need. The new children’s hospital will offer a wide range of services under one roof – all available regardless of a parent’s ability to pay.”

Today’s ribbon-cutting coincides with the children’s hospital’s 50th anniversary. At the time of the founding, no single facility had all of the specialized equipment or nursing personnel needed to care for children. A group of local pediatricians agreed that children’s care should be centralized in one location to enable the investment in pediatric equipment and specialized nurses. The doctors approached Sacred Heart with a proposal to convert a dormitory for the old Sacred Heart nursing school into a children’s hospital. After only two weeks’ deliberation, the Daughters of Charity announced plans to create the area’s first facility dedicated solely to the care of infants and children. Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital opened on April 1, 1969.

Studer Family Children’s Hospital has a medical staff of more than 120 board-certified physicians across 30 pediatric specialties. For more information about available services, visit studerfamilychildrenshospital.com.