GRAND RAPIDS — Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital hopes to secure additional public funding to finance half the cost for a new $60 million pediatric facility in Grand Rapids.
After securing $13 million in public money last year through a $10 million earmark in the state budget for the present fiscal year, and $3 million in federal funding, Mary Free Bed has been talking to lawmakers who represent the region about additional support, CEO Kent Riddle told MiBiz.
Mary Free Bed wants to raise $30 million total from public sources and $30 million through private philanthropy to finance the project, which is a joint venture with Corewell Health’s Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
Early response to the request for additional public support for the project from state and federal lawmakers and the governor’s office has been “100 percent supportive, verbally at least,” Riddle said.
The three-story facility, planned for a site on Wealthy Street across from Mary Free Bed’s campus, would become the first rehab hospital in Michigan dedicated to treating pediatric patients.
To date, Mary Free Bed has raised $20 million, which includes $13 million in public money, plus $7 million in pledges to a capital campaign that includes $5 million from the Peter and Joan Secchia Family.
The Secchia family contribution kicked off the capital campaign that’s been quietly conducted jointly with Corewell Health, Riddle said. Leaders were “very surprised” and “super excited” to receive the support from the Secchia family, he said.
Joan Secchia also assembled and has led a “kitchen cabinet” consisting of a “who’s who of Grand Rapids” to help with the capital campaign, Riddle said.
“She’s been a wonderful, leading proponent and a champion for the new hospital,” he said.
The other $2 million committed so far in the capital campaign came from individual private donors and a few foundations, Riddle said. Capital campaign organizers have several requests outstanding and are “talking to anyone who has any interest in children, especially children with disabilities,” he said.
Between public funding and philanthropy, Riddle is “cautious, but conservatively optimistic” that Mary Freed Bed will have 85 percent to 90 percent of the $60 million committed by the end of 2023 to begin construction next spring.
About 40 foundations and potential private donors have all “expressed interest in becoming part of the project,” Riddle said.
“We have not found someone or one entity who is not interested,” he said. “We have a number of asks out now after lots of discussions with major donors and foundations, and we’re expecting more good news to continue to come in to reach that number.
“We’re pretty bullish about it right now.”
Mary Free Bed recently retained Detroit-based architectural, engineering and planning firm SmithGroup to design the pediatric facility.
“We’re looking forward to bringing the best of our integrated practice to creating an iconic breakthrough building for Mary Free Bed,” said Ann Kenyon, a vice president and health studio leader at SmithGroup who will be the project’s principal in charge. “The new pediatric rehabilitation hospital will be a welcoming destination and gathering place that promotes healing and well-being for patients, their families and the greater community.”
Grand Rapids-based Enviah PC is representing Mary Free Bed in working with SmithGroup on the design. Enviah previously led the design work for a 60-bed, $40.7 million rehab hospital that opened in late 2021 in Saginaw. Mary Free Bed developed the facility with Covenant Health.
Mary Free Bed in mid-2022 publicly unveiled plans for the new facility that would double pediatric inpatient capacity to 24 beds, coupled with extensive outpatient space, and serve children born with malformations and defects, as well as children recovering from diseases, chronic pain or traumatic injuries.
“Nearly all of the children in Michigan, both in the Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula, come to Mary Free Bed in Grand Rapids for rehabilitation care, so we’re building a facility so we can accommodate all of them,” Riddle said. “Currently, we’re busy and cannot accommodate all of those kids. There is no place else for them to go in the state.”
Mary Free Bed presently treats 6,500 to 7000 pediatric patients annually, mostly through outpatient care. The new hospital will enable Mary Free Bed to increase pediatric capacity by about 2,000 to 2,500 patients.