June 16, 2006

Third bed-tower plan takes shape

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This rendering shows the location of the proposed third bed tower at VUH, to be built atop the Emergency Department.

Third bed-tower plan takes shape

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is moving forward with longstanding plans to add a third bed tower to the main hospital.

The $234 million, 11-story tower would be built atop Vanderbilt University Hospital's Emergency Department, and would add a net of 141 additional acute-care beds as well as several new operating suites. VUH currently has 501 adult beds and is the largest hospital in Middle Tennessee. Including the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt and the Psychiatric Hospital at Vanderbilt, VUMC is licensed for 805 beds.

Medical Center officials earlier this week filed a Certificate of Need (CON) with the State of Tennessee, a crucial regulatory step. Pending state approval, construction could begin this fall and is expected to be done in phases, with completion targeted for 2012.

With occupancy rates at VUH routinely hovering around 90 percent, the addition of a third bed tower is needed to keep pace with the growth in demand for Vanderbilt's health services, said Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs.

“Vanderbilt is the dominant provider of health care services in the region. Building this tower and adding these beds will allow us to improve and strengthen our position and our ability to provide our growing number of patients with the essential services that only we can provide,” Jacobson said.

The new tower would consist of eight patient care and two mechanical floors above the existing one-story Emergency Department.

The project also involves relocation and expansion of existing cardiac catheterization labs and cardiac “hybrid” operating rooms, relocation of a clinical research unit and the addition of 14 new operating suites.

Elevator additions, waiting area and patient amenity renovations in the existing hospital and various other Medical Center renovation projects are also included in the $234.4 million total, which will be financed through philanthropy, debt financing and cash reserves.

VUH originally opened in 1980 and each of its two seven-story towers contains approximately 20 to 30 patient rooms per floor.

After 25 years of use, the existing patient rooms and support space are deemed significantly undersized for the requirements of today's medical care.

Also, with occupancy at consistently high levels, utilization over the past five years has overtaxed the hospital's capacity, resulting in patient diversions and extensive use of holding areas for patients who would otherwise be admitted.