VCU Health System, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Richmond and The Doorways announce plans for Navy Hill ‘Block D’ Development 

Complex to provide expanded services to patients and their families

Rendering of VCU Health System's proposal for the Navy Hill "Block D" redevelopment.
Concept project rendering of VCU Health System's proposal for the Navy Hill "Block D" redevelopment (Image credit: Capital City Partners, LLC, and SMBW).

Officials from Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, The Doorways and Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Richmond today released more details on a proposed complex in the Navy Hill project that would provide urgently needed facilities and services for patients and their families, employees, students and visitors to downtown Richmond.

The complex involves redeveloping Block D of the Navy Hill District, between 9th and 10th streets from Leigh to Clay streets. This block previously supported the Richmond Public Services building. 

“There is tremendous potential to develop this section of Richmond into a thriving urban center that will generate much needed tax revenue for the city,” said Michael Rao, president of VCU and VCU Health System. “Over the past few years VCU has invested more than $1 billion to improve one of the mid-Atlantic’s most important academic medical centers with the hope that the neighborhood surrounding it will share in the city’s renaissance.”

The proposed plan would involve a public-private partnership that involves the sale of D Block by the city to a private developer so the complex would be taxable. The facilities would be built to the specifications of the partners with a long-term lease. The redevelopment would currently Include:

  • 250 physician-faculty office spaces for the adjacent VCU Medical Center adult outpatient pavilion
  • Replacement facilities for The Doorways
  • New Ronald McDonald House for Richmond
  • Child care
  • Retail pharmacy
  • Retail shopping and dining locations
  • Other innovative and health care-related spaces
  • More than 1,500 parking spaces to support programs housed in the complex


“VCU and VCU Health System continue to strongly support redevelopment of the Navy Hill area that is critically important, especially with the current construction of the new children’s inpatient hospital and the adult outpatient pavilion,” said Melinda Hancock, chief administrative and financial officer of the VCU Health System. “Bringing together this partnership of VCU Health, The Doorways and RMHC Richmond enables us to leverage our resources and our missions to better serve patients and families from the Richmond area and beyond.”

The Doorways is one of the largest hospital hospitality houses in the nation, providing more than 50,000 nights of lodging to about 10,000 children and adults each year. The organization’s current building, located in the 600 block of East Marshall Street, is well past its prime at 55 years old and located near the vacated coliseum and Blues Armory building.

Stacy Brinkley, president and CEO of The Doorways, said that the current facility is at capacity, forcing the organization to frequently turn away patients and families who need a place to stay. “Many of our guests tell us they would have to forgo the medical treatment they need if it weren’t for a place like The Doorways,” she said.

“Our aging building, combined with the evolving needs of our guests, makes our relocation to a larger and new building critical to our role serving the larger community,” Brinkley said. “The proposed relocation to Block D will provide our guests with closer and more convenient access to their medical providers, as well as amenities such as pharmacies, grocery stores, and green space. It will allow our guests to feel less isolated and cut off from neighborhood amenities that can make an extended stay less stressful.”

The demand for services also exceeds current capacity at RMHC of Richmond, located on Monument Ave. In 2019, RMHC Richmond hosted families for 2,240 nights of care from 86 counties in Virginia, 22 states across the country and five countries and territories around the world.

“Over the last four decades, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Richmond has provided comfort, support and resources for families with ill or injured children receiving medical treatment at area hospitals and medical facilities. However, the needs of pediatric patient families in our region have grown to seven times the capacity of our current Ronald McDonald House,” said Kerry Blumberg, RMHC Richmond executive director.
 
The newly proposed Ronald McDonald House of Richmond would elevate the community’s ability to serve as a hub for family-centered care. With enhanced facilities that feature immune-compromised suites, new community and family spaces, and dozens of new sleep rooms, the house will be equipped to provide greater support to pediatric patient families, ultimately reducing the emotional and financial burdens of having a child in medical crisis. 
 
“Research shows the close proximity of a Ronald McDonald House to the hospital enhances a family’s psychological well-being by keeping them close together and providing emotional and physical comfort and support. By giving families the ability to spend more time with their sick children, they are able to interact with their doctors and make important decisions about their children’s care,” Blumberg said.

“Over the coming months and with the support of the community, donors and key partnerships, RMHC Richmond is dedicated to helping even more families with children receiving vital medical care just footsteps away at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU.”

VCU Health System’s Melinda Hancock said the need for the complex is urgent for all of the parties involved. “When planning discussions began, we were hopeful for a 2021 building open,” she said. “VCU Health System, The Doorways and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Richmond will continue to work with the Richmond city administration and City Council on this important redevelopment plan”

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NOTE: MEDIA AVAILABILITY

Officials from VCU Health System, The Doorways and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Richmond are available for media interviews today, Feb. 4, from 3 – 4 pm. 

  • Location: VCU College of Health Professions, ground floor lecture hall (900 E Leigh St.)

  • Complimentary parking is available at VCU’s 8th Street Parking Deck (entrance located at 659 N. 8th St.)

  • For questions, please contact Laura Rossacher at 804-418-0174.

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 30,000 students in 233 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Twenty-two of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 11 schools and three colleges. The VCU Health brand represents the VCU health sciences academic programs, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, and MCV Physicians. The clinical enterprise includes a collaboration with Sheltering Arms Institute for physical rehabilitation services. For more, please visit www.vcu.edu and vcuhealth.org.

About The Doorways

The Doorways is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization operating in a 115-room former hotel in downtown Richmond, Virginia. Originally founded in 1984 as Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond, The Doorways is now one of the largest hospital hospitality houses in the nation. Annually, The Doorways provides over 50,000 nights of lodging, meals and support services to approximately 10,000 children and adults, including many veterans and veteran family members. Though the average length of stay is six (6) nights, nearly 50% of The Doorways’ stays are for one (1) month or longer. In addition to private rooms, guests of The Doorways have free access to prepared meals and fully stocked self-serve kitchens, hourly shuttle service to and from VCU Health, self-serve laundry facilities with all needed supplies, wi-fi, emotional support from social workers, and more.

About Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Richmond (RMHC Richmond)

Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Richmond (RMHC Richmond) is an independent, non-profit chapter of Ronald McDonald House Charities®. We provide a “home-away-from-home” for families with children receiving care at local medical facilities through our Ronald McDonald House®. In 2019 our House hosted families from 86 counties in Virginia, 22 states across the country and 5 nations around the world. We also a number of in-hospital programs, bringing care to caregivers where they are. We provide Ronald McDonald Family Rooms® footsteps from the pediatric intensive care units at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU and Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital; we manage Happy Wheels hospitality carts and offer Lunches with Love (a lunch delivery program) to local pediatric and neonatal units; and we empower the siblings of Richmond’s youngest patients with hands-on arts and crafts and educational programs through the RMHC Sibling Center® in the Children’s Pavilion at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. Our funding is made possible thanks to vital financial support from the Richmond community, and we are fueled by thousands of volunteers. To learn more visit www.rmhc-richmond.org