Plainsboro officials opened the year with news that a prominent healthcare organization was looking to move into the township.
Officials at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have confirmed they are interested in opening a facility in Plainsboro on 13 acres on the new hospital campus off Route 1. Mayor Peter Cantu announced the news at the reorganization meeting on January 4.
“We acquired land on the new campus, and we’re just about to launch the design process,” confirmed Madeline Bell, CHOP president and chief financial officer. “The township has been working very closely with us on ensuring consistency with the hospital look.”
CHOP was founded in 1855 as the nation’s first hospital devoted exclusively to caring for children and has been ranked as a top hospital nationally. CHOP staff will operate the pediatric unit at the new UMCP at Plainsboro, which is scheduled to open in early 2012.
“We have had a relationship over the last year and a half with the Princeton HealthCare System at their current location,” said Bell. CHOP provides pediatric emergency consultation, inpatient pediatric care, and neonatal care at the current hospital in Princeton and has been working with PHCS to develop the pediatric unit and neonatal intensive care unit at the new hospital, which is currently under construction.
Since CHOP doctors will be operating the pediatrics unit at the new hospital, the new CHOP facility will complement the services provided to patients, she said. The facility would be for children who need outpatient visits with specialists and also serve as a diagnostics center.
For example, if a child needed to visit a pediatric endocrinologist for an outpatient visit, the doctor would be located right on the new hospital campus. “It will be a nice continuum of care,” Bell said.
“We are very pleased that The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia — which is often recognized as the best children’s hospital in the United States — will be part of our comprehensive health campus in Plainsboro,” said Barry Rabner, president and CEO of Princeton HealthCare System. “CHOP experts now provide care in our Pediatric unit and Special Care Nursery, as well as pediatric emergency consultation in our Emergency Department, and they will continue to do so at the new hospital.”
CHOP officials have not submitted any official plans or details to Plainsboro. However, Cantu said that CHOP officials have indicated they would go through the necessary Planning Board process to enable them to open a facility in Plainsboro.
Located on 50 acres of a 160-acre site off Route 1, the new hospital will consist of 636,000 square feet of interior space, including 237 single patient rooms, operating rooms, treatment areas, and an emergency department, which will double the size of the current one.
The new medical center will be located on a 171-acre healthcare campus that will also include a medical office building, a fitness and wellness center, a health education center, a senior residential community, a skilled nursing facility, pediatric services, and a 32-acre public park along the Millstone River.
Cantu made the announcement about CHOPS during the Township Committee’s reorganization meeting on January 4, during which the mayor also highlighted the accomplishments of the year and announced the projects that are upcoming in 2011.
“We’ve had some recent interest expressed by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to come into that area,” said Cantu. “That will require modification of our redevelopment plan.”
Les Varga, the township’s director of planning and zoning, said that the area they are targeting is currently vacant land adjacent to the hospital property and is zoned for the continuing care retirement community. “That would be parceled out, much like the skilled nursing facility, which sits on its own 5 acres,” said Varga.
If CHOP were to occupy a parcel of that land, the township’s redevelopment plan would need to be amended. “It’s one contiguous parcel right now,” said Varga. “If they came in, we would have to come in and do a subdivision and re-write that portion of the plan.”
Bell said the new location would sit on a 13-acre site to the right of the main entrance of the hospital. “It will be very visible there on Plainsboro Road and at the entrance of the new hospital’s main driveway,” she explained.
CHOP also has locations for specialty services in West Windsor, at 707 Alexander Road, Voorhees, New Brunswick, and other areas.
Details on the size and extent of CHOP’s new facility will be known once CHOP submits plans to the township. Bell said CHOP would go through the normal planning process with the township.
During preliminary discussions, CHOP mentioned a desire of a structure that could occupy anywhere between 25,000 and 100,000 square feet, said Varga. “It’s still hard to say what the size of their ultimate facility will be because we don’t even know what the size of their parcel would be,” Varga said.
CHOP “is one of the premiere children’s hospitals in the country,” said Cantu. “It is important that we carefully consider their interest to come into Plainsboro Township.”