MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — $125 million dollars, the attention of a head football coach, and the help of some very special hardhats have launched the very beginning of WVU Medicine Children’s new $150 million tower.

“This is probably the most exciting project I’ve been a part of in many, many years of being a healthcare leader,” said Albert Wright, President and CEO of WVU Health System. “We’ve found here at WVU Medicine, when we put together people, programs, and physical plant, magic can happen.”

WVU President Gordon Gee, head football coach Dana Holgorsen, and WVU Medicine Children’s executive VP Dr. J. Philip Saul joined Wright and a very large audience for Monday’s groundbreaking ceremony.

“We really want our campus to look like a collection of five to six sub-specialized institutes around the neurosciences and cancer and Heart & Vascular. And now, our Children’s Hospital. And this is a program that does spectacular stuff.”

During brief remarks Monday, Holgorsen described himself as “in awe” when thinking about both the children and the staff that make up WVU Medicine Children’s.

“It’s not just kids fighting sometimes for their lives, but it’s also the care specialists as well,” Holgorsen said. “Care providers, they make a difference.”

The WVU Medicine Board of Directors approved the use of $125 million for the $150 million project. However, an additional $35 million will be used to add programs — similar to the School Intervention Program — to allow the new tower to fully function as an all-purpose extended home for children and their families during difficult times.

“We have spectacular outcomes,” Wright said. “We treat kids from all 55 counties, all around the state of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Ohio, and so on and so forth. Now, we’re going to give it a true face to the program so that when people come to Ruby Memorial for anything or for a football game, they’ll see that Children’s Hospital.”

The tower, expected to open in 2020, will significantly increase the reach and scope of WVU Medicine Children’s.

“If you’ve ever been a family member that has a child treated at a children’s hospital, you want folks that just work in the children’s hospital that’s tailored to their needs,” Wright said.

The project, originally conceived as a ten-story tower but since revised to an eight-story extension, is expected to be used as a recruiting tool for top-level talent, Wright said.

“This will drive in more, because your best pediatrics and specialists want to work in a place that fully embraces pediatrics and women’s care,” Wright said. “This is a $150 million dollar project. It’s going to be a beautiful eight or nine story tower, and it’s truly going to revolutionize how we take care of women and children in the state of West Virginia.”

A Certificate of Need has been approved by the West Virginia Health Care Authority, putting construction on track to finish in 2020.

In addition to the change in the size of the tower, a medical office building has been added to the project. That will include a pediatric sub-specialty and maternal-fetal medicine clinics.

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