Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital broke ground Feb. 18 on a new $230 million hospital and medical office that will provide advanced medical care for children as part of a statewide pediatric network.

“After more than a decade of planning, the strategic vision to design and build a hospital that will change the lives of Louisiana’s children is coming to fruition. We know that children have unique needs and require specialized care in an environment built just for them,” said Scott Wester, chief executive officer, Our Lady of the Lake.

He said the hospital’s goal is to build a hospital “that will further advance care and research for children through greater recruitment of pediatric specialists, continue to grow our successful pediatric residency program that trains future Louisiana pediatricians, and capitalize upon strategic partnerships like that of our relationship with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.”

“Children make up nearly 25 percent of Louisiana’s population and these children are our future. We recognize our role and responsibility to provide the necessary tools for our youth to grow into healthy adults,” said

Dr. Shaun Kemmerly, chief medical officer, Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital.

“We recognize our role and responsibility to provide the necessary tools for our youth to grow into healthy adults,” Kemmerly said.

“We are committed to positively impacting the long-term health of the state and to do this we must begin with children,” he said. “With this new facility we can continue to grow the resources for ongoing education for children to create lifestyle changes and to build healthy habits to break the risk cycles of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity. Healthy children grow into healthy adults.”

The new, six-story hospital, designed specifically for children, will cover 350,000 square feet and include inpatient beds, a pediatric emergency room, surgical unit, a dedicated hematology/oncology unit that will serve both inpatients and outpatients, and playrooms on every floor. Plans also include a four-story, 95,000-square-foot medical office building primarily for pediatric medical specialists.

Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital offers pediatric specialty care across the state. In addition to Baton Rouge, Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital Pediatric Specialty clinics are located in Hammond, Gonzales, Lafayette and Monroe.

Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital currently operates as a hospital-within-a-hospital model inside Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. The new Children’s Hospital will be built on 66 acres of property that runs parallel to Interstate 10 between Essen and Bluebonnet near OLOL’s main campus in Baton Rouge.

The project is expected to be complete in late 2018.

Hospital officials said philanthropy supports the construction project and ongoing health and wellness programs.

“To date, we have raised half of our initial goal of $50 million but fundraising is ongoing and will not stop once we reach our goal,” said John Paul Funes, president, Our Lady of the Lake Foundation. “Philanthropy plays an important role in most children’s hospitals and allows hospitals to purchase lifesaving equipment, invest in programs that benefit the health and wellness of all patients and purchase unique and special items that help make the hospital and its treatments and procedures less scary for patients.”