New hospital could benefit heart of Oklahoma City's south side

Published: Friday, August 21, 2009 7:00 am By: Debbie Blossom

The Oklahoman

Months before it opens, Oklahoma Heart Hospital South at the crossroads of Interstate 240 and Sooner Road is already at landmark status.

And with 80 percent of construction finished, hospital officials gave a tour Thursday for some civic and business leaders eager to see progress on the $98 million, 163,000-square-foot facility that is expected to pump up business growth in the area.

The building will be completed by the end of December, and the hospital remains on target for a January opening to patients, said John Austin, Oklahoma Heart Hospital South's chief operating officer.

"We are starting to look like a hospital," Austin told visitors including Oklahoma City Ward 4 Councilman Pete White and Elaine Lyons, president and CEO of the South Oklahoma City Chamber.

"Walls, floors and ceilings are in place, and workers are adding finishing touches on the first two floors and the ER, day patient, dietary, cafeteria and pharmacy."

The 46-bed hospital is being built by a consortium of hospitals including Oklahoma Heart Hospital North, Mercy Health Center, Midwest Regional Medical Center, as well as Norman Regional Health System. Oklahoma Heart Hospital will own 60 percent of its south facility, Austin said.

The south campus site will have the ability to expand to 62 beds, three catheterization labs will be built with additional space planned for a future fourth lab, and two operating rooms have expansion capability for a third. There will be 10 ER beds and 15 day patient beds.

Demand for more heart services in southeastern Oklahoma City and eastern Oklahoma County is behind the expansion from northwest Oklahoma City, where Oklahoma Heart Hospital opened seven years ago and demand for services have exceeded projections, Austin said.

Along with heart care, the hospital's ER is expected to ease capacity patient loads at other hospitals such as Southwest Medical Center and Midwest Regional Medical Center.

How area will benefit
And while top-notch health care is the goal, the hospital will also spur new development in the area.

"This is a huge project for southeast Oklahoma City," White said, in a part of town that hasn't seen as much big-building construction as other areas. "This is the watershed; it's a huge catch."

The hospital will lay a foundation for the area, Lyons said, encouraging business growth from hotels, restaurants, retail and other service operations.

Developers already are scouting nearby sites, anticipating projects, said Neil Robinson, engineering assistant director with Cardinal Engineering.

"In a year from now, I expect some development will start," he said. "We've already had some contacts."

One sure project will be construction of a 50,000-square-foot building for physicians' offices, Austin said, that is projected to start next spring.

Oklahoma Heart Hospital South will open with about 160 employees, Austin said, but that number will double by the end of the year.

The hospital is actively hiring managers for all clinical departments, including pharmacy, radiology, respiratory therapy and surgery. "And once managers are hiring, they will hire their staffs," Austin said.

Interested applicants are encouraged to apply online at

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