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Children's to Open Expansion to Ireland Center May 18

BIRMINGHAM – Children's of Alabama will open a 10-bed expansion of its Children's Behavioral Health unit on Monday, May 18.

The 5,800-square foot project, located in the Ireland Center on the 4th floor of the hospital's Dearth Tower, brings the number of psychiatric beds at the state's only freestanding pediatric medical facility to 44. The Alabama Department of Public Health recently approved occupancy of the additional beds. The addition will primarily serve adolescents through 18 years of age and will allow Children’s to better meet the growing need for in-patient psychiatric care.

"The additional beds are needed to address the increasing demand," said Tom Shufflebarger, Children’s Senior Executive Vice-President and COO. “Visits to COA's Emergency Department for behavioral health issues are up over 60 percent since 2015, consistent with what others are experiencing nationally. Our inpatient unit has been at capacity for several years and we routinely have had to transfer patients to other units around the state, or hold them in our ED waiting on a bed to open up. This expansion, along with plans to increase outpatient services, will help us better meet the needs of children state wide."

The facility is named for Birmingham's Ireland family whose philanthropy has long focused on Alabama's mental health issues. Doster Construction served as construction manager and Poole and Company as architect for the project. Children’s of Alabama’s campus includes more than 3.5 million square feet of space, making it one of the largest pediatric medical facilities in the country.

Since 1911, Children’s of Alabama has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured children, offering inpatient and outpatient services throughout central Alabama. Ranked among the best pediatric medical centers in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s provided care for youngsters from every county in Alabama and 42 other states last year, representing more than 684,000 outpatient visits and more than 15,000 inpatient admissions. With more than 3.5 million square feet, Children’s is one of the largest pediatric medical facilities in the United States. It is a private, not-for-profit medical center that serves as the teaching hospital for the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) pediatric medicine, surgery, psychiatry, research and residency programs. The medical staff consists of UAB faculty and Children’s of Alabama’s full-time physicians as well as private practicing community physicians.