COLUMBUS – Nationwide Children’s Hospital announced today the most ambitious strategic plan in its 129-year history. A five-year, $3.3 billion commitment aimed at transforming health outcomes for children locally and around the world, will invest in hallmark programs, talent, and facilities for cutting-edge research and world-class care. What makes Nationwide Children’s plan distinctive among the nation’s leading pediatric hospitals and research centers will be its focus on advancing child health outcomes through the hospital’s unique expertise in pediatric population health, behavioral health and genomics as the next frontiers in children’s health. The plan will be financed through a combination of philanthropy, operations, and debt funding.
This combination of strengths has fueled Nationwide Children’s significant accomplishments in the past decade as a health care destination for children from every state and 54 countries, seeing 1.6 million patient visits annually. Nationwide Children’s research in numerous fields have led to breakthroughs that help children around the world. The hospital is recognized as a national leader in quality improvement efforts and behavioral health, with 250,000 behavioral health patient visits annually. Its innovative Partners For Kids® program, which in conjunction with its newest partner Dayton Children’s Hospital, manages the health care of more than 425,000 children across more than half of Ohio’s counties.
“Nationwide Children’s has established itself as an international leader in pediatric care and research, and this plan is particularly aspirational because it enables us to have an even greater impact on the wellbeing of children and families,” said Alex Fischer, president and CEO of the Columbus Partnership and chair of Nationwide Children’s Hospital Board of Directors. “Our commitment reflects a strong community of supporters, who make it possible to provide the highest quality care to Central Ohio children and to those who travel here from around the world. We will make discoveries with widespread effect, while strengthening the health and wellbeing of local neighborhoods and families.”
Integrated Clinical Care and Research: Advancing Cutting-Edge Treatment and Discovery
Nationwide Children’s primary investments will be in integrated clinical care and research to ensure children are receiving the most advanced therapies possible for their conditions. The hospital will add leading clinical and research faculty, launch a new fetal medicine program to help infants who need treatment in the womb, and build several new world-class health care and research facilities. New facilities will include an inpatient hospital tower mirroring the existing 12-story one. It will also include a new orthopedics and surgery center, new research facilities and new investments in the hospital’s areas of leadership in pediatrics.
“We have the opportunity to pursue these ambitious plans because of our solid foundation, the incredible team we have at Nationwide Children’s and the strides we have made in reimagining the traditional role of a children’s hospital in impacting child health beyond our campus. These efforts, integrated with our outstanding clinical care and research programs, have created a unique ecosystem for changing the way healthcare can be delivered to children here and everywhere,” said Tim Robinson, CEO, Nationwide Children’s. “Through this plan our team continues to put children at the center of everything we do, always grounded in our mission to ensure all children have access to the finest care regardless of ability to pay. This is about making children’s lives better. We are ready to do even more.”
Healthy Equity and Population Health: An Increased Focus on Quality Care for All Children
Because children’s environments have a major impact on their wellbeing, Nationwide Children’s is furthering its nationally recognized population health efforts to help children where they are: in their schools, homes, and neighborhoods. Investments will be made to provide stable, quality housing, and provide resources for school-based health services, community-wide efforts to reduce infant mortality, and provide economic development to under-resourced neighborhoods. The last year has raised our national awareness even more of the importance of these issues and their impact on child health in our community and across the country.
The hospital is addressing health equity through its Stand Against Racism and Stand for Health Equity plan by launching new strategies to break down barriers to care for children and families in underserved populations, expanding access to quality care and advocating for policies that address social determinants of health. Nationwide Children’s Healthy Neighborhoods Healthy Families (HNHF) program is exemplary of this effort with plans to significantly grow their programs including home ownership and renovation. HNHF has already built or improved more than 400 properties in communities around the hospital. Additionally, Creation of a new Center for Child Health Equity and Outcomes Research will support this work with research-driven data.
“Nationwide Children’s is committed not only to best outcomes but also to health equity for children, and fulfilling our mission of ensuring all children have access to world-class care,” said Chief Judge Algenon L. Marbley, U.S. District Court Southern District of Ohio and chair of Nationwide Children’s Board of Directors facilities committee. “This will benefit all of us, as Nationwide Children’s creates new jobs and invests in communities that have for too long been underdeveloped and under-resourced.”
The hospital will further invest in Partners For Kids (PFK), Nationwide Children’s impactful accountable care organization. Alongside its partners, PFK supports the highest quality care for almost all children served by Medicaid in more than half of Ohio counties, while also sharing best practices with pediatric providers across the state. The hospital will also invest in Pediatric Vital Signs, an initiative to measure the wellbeing of all children in its community across eight metrics, with the goal of determining what is working and expanding the initiative as a national model for pediatric care.
Nationwide Children’s will invest in these initiatives and other health equity and population health programs with the intent to scale and grow these efforts and extend work into other areas of social determinants of health for the community.
Pediatric Behavioral and Mental Health Care: Expanding and Sharing Nationwide Children’s Model of Care
Nationwide Children’s has garnered significant attention for its groundbreaking work for children and families experiencing mental health crises including the opening of the Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion in March 2020. Nationwide Children’s will continue to advance this work by investing in new clinical programs, staff and clinicians, and innovative resources for parents and other providers. A notable expansion will be in behavioral health research where Nationwide Children’s will seek to better understand the nature of mental health in children, develop better diagnostics, treatment and preventative strategies. The hospital’s experts will also partner with other community-based behavioral health organizations to help address the need for patient access across all systems of care.
“Nationwide Children’s has become a national model for mental and behavioral health care for children and adolescents. We will further this commitment to integrated care and national advocacy,” said Bruce Thorn, CEO of Big Lots and Nationwide Children’s Board of Directors member. “The Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion enables us to provide high-quality, acute care for kids in crisis, and we will continue to do even more to meet the significant needs of our region and to address this national crisis.”
On Our Sleeves®, the national movement for children’s mental health launched by Nationwide Children’s in 2018, will expand with an aim to provide every community in America with free resources necessary for breaking child mental health stigmas and educating families and advocates. The platform has served 2 million people since its launch with plans to double-down on those efforts.
Nationwide Children’s will also share learnings about its health equity, population health, behavioral health and value-based care leadership through a new online resource, The Collaboratory for Kids & Community Health launching today.
Genomics Research and Personalized Medicine: New Investments on the Frontier of Pediatric Health Care
The Steve and Cindy Rasmussen Institute for Genomic Medicine at the Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital was created in 2016 to bring pediatric personalized genomic medicine not only to Nationwide Children’s patients but to children across the country and around the globe. Over the next five years, new investments, partnerships and infrastructure will allow the Institute for Genomic Medicine to develop novel genomics-enabled research, advance genomics-driven precision medicine and pursue further breakthroughs in the technology of computational genomics and informatics.
The Institute’s world-renowned faculty are moving genome-based testing into the mainstream of pediatric diagnosis and treatment, making the results accessible and meaningful for patients and families.
Quality and Safety: Continued Leadership from the Pioneer in Zero Preventable Harm
In 2009, with the launch of the Zero Hero ℠ program, Nationwide Children’s became the first children’s hospital in the country committed to eliminating preventable harm. This aspiration fueled an international movement to improve pediatric patient outcomes by making pediatric health care safer.
Capitalizing on these great strides made in safety and building upon an already robust quality improvement culture, Nationwide Children’s will reinvent their Zero Hero ℠ program to further advance safety, focusing not only on eliminating incidents of preventable harm, but also widening the lens of safety and using state of the art, predictive approaches anticipate and prevent harm before it happens. In addition, the hospital will establish The Center for Clinical Excellence to focus on achieving best outcomes by reducing unwarranted variation in care, improving communication, and defining, measuring, and transparently sharing clinical outcomes.
“We are incredibly proud of what we have accomplished on behalf of children and families and are excited about our vision for children in the future,” said Kirt Walker, CEO at Nationwide and Nationwide Children’s Vice Chair, Board of Directors and Co-Chair of the board’s strategic planning committee. “We are going to dramatically expand our clinical and research efforts with outcomes that will transform the health of children worldwide. This plan incorporates every element of a child’s life – from housing and education to their individual genome.”