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October 10, 2022 / 2022 Power 25 Health Care

2022 Power 25 Health Care: James Shmerling

James Shmerling is leading a transformation of Connecticut Children’s medical center.

Earlier this year, Shmerling told the Hartford Business Journal the care provider was preparing to undertake the largest-ever expansion of its Hartford campus, as it prepares to grow existing services and launch new ones, including an effort to become a national center for fetal care.

Connecticut Children’s — which began operating in 1996 as the successor to Newington Children’s Hospital — is planning a $280-million expansion anchored by a new 190,000-square-foot, eight-story patient tower on its Washington Street campus.

The tower will connect to Connecticut Children’s main Hartford building and feature an array of services, including 50 private neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) beds, expanded behavioral health and cancer treatment services, and a new comprehensive fetal care center, hospital officials said.

The ambitious project will create upwards of 500 new jobs — including temporary construction positions as well as the hiring of about 25 new physicians and more than 130 nurses. It is being driven by increased demand for surgical and other children’s care and a lack of available space within the hospital’s main campus building, Connecticut Children’s officials said.

A centerpiece of the expansion is the new fetal care center. Only a handful exist throughout the U.S., and having one in Hartford will be a boon for the region, Shmerling said. It will allow for early intervention of birth defects, including ailments that impact a newborn’s heart, nervous system, ear, face or neck.

“This will save lives,” Shmerling said. “We believe a program like this that is so comprehensive will attract patients from all over the country and will make Connecticut a destination center for these types of illnesses.”

Shmerling, who joined Connecticut Children’s in late 2015, is not new to major expansions. He previously oversaw hospital construction at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Hospital of Colorado.

In 2017, Shmerling also led the relocation of about 400 Connecticut Children’s non-clinical employees to the Candy Cane building in downtown Hartford, a move that freed up clinical space at the hospital’s main campus.

The Nashville native is well-known in the industry, having held management roles at children’s hospitals in five states since 1979. He also chaired the board of the national Children’s Hospital Association in 2014.

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