First phase of nearly $80 million Norton Children's Hospital renovation nears completion

A big piece of Norton Children's Hospital will soon look completely different. The nearly $80 million renovation project is a quarter of the way completed.

Phase One of the project is on the first floor next to the new Au Bon Pain café and bakery, which recently replaced McDonald's. It's a conference center for medical professionals, students and families, and it's set to open this month.

"It will provide excellent opportunities for education," Norton Children's Hospital Interim Chief Administrative Officer Emmett Ramser said.

Phase Two is turning offices into a new medical/surgical unit. Opening this phase will free up space on the fourth floor to start a Cardiac Intensive Care Unit named after and partly paid for by Hunger Games star and Louisville's own Jennifer Lawrence.

"That will be a 17-bed unit dedicated to patients with heart problems," Ramser said.

Phase Three and Phase Four will create a new NICU and a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Both will help create private, more personalized rooms for kids and families.

Patients will be "able to control the lighting and the sound and have family space where families can sleep in with their babies," Norton Healthcare Chief Development Officer Lynnie Meyer said.

This totals nearly $80 million and is the biggest financial investment in the hospital since the split from Kosair Charities nearly two years ago. The two had a partnership for decades until it ended in a bitter lawsuit. The hospital is now relying heavily on the Children's Hospital Foundation for money.

"The Children’s Hospital Foundation will be funding approximately $20 million, so Norton Healthcare has put in a significant amount of money and we're working with the community to raise the difference," Meyer said.

But hospital officials say parting ways with the charity brings clarity to donors.

"Families have been grateful to know exactly where their money is going and to be able to specifically invest in the work of the children's hospital," Meyer said. "I think it's brought more clarity to the community and all of the dollars given to the Children's Hospital Foundation stay here at Norton Children's Hospital, 100 percent."

The final phase of this construction project should be completely by late 2021.

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