OU Medical Center to add tower

Published: Tuesday, June 20, 2017 By: Sarah Terry-Cobo Source: The Journal Record

OKLAHOMA CITY – OU Medical Center is expanding its Oklahoma City hospital complex to address rising demand.

The organization will soon remodel an existing building and eventually build a tower with more operating rooms, more in-patient beds, and more services.

A hospital contractor filed a building permit last week for the first renovation phase. Kris Wallace, OU Medical Center chief operating officer, said she’s excited to begin the expansion project because the hospital system has been near or above capacity for a few years.

The first phase is a $3 million renovation of operating rooms at the main building at 700 NE 13th St. There will be room for gastrointestinal services such as scope procedures and special radiological services, which include stroke intervention procedures. The project will encompass about 100,000 square feet.

Eventually, the hospital trust will build a new, nine-story tower, with one floor below ground. The tower will be built in phases adding 36 beds per floor and 32 operating rooms. The tower will encompass about 450,000 square feet and will include a new lobby, a chapel, gift shop, cafe and four community rooms to be used for education. The tower’s last two floors will likely be built after the new building is open.

OU Medical spokesman Paul Sund wrote in an email to The Journal Record that the hospital trust authority will finance the project from revenue the hospital generates and from long-term bonds, which it has not yet issued. A cost estimate was not available because the project is still in the design phase, Sund wrote.

The decline of health care in rural Oklahoma and closure of several rural hospitals leads more patients to seek health care in Oklahoma City, Wallace said. And since the Stephenson Cancer Center opened a few years ago, there’s more demand for specialty cancer treatment.

The hospital declines or diverts more than 200 patients per month because there aren’t enough beds to accommodate them. Some people on waiting lists to see physicians cancel appointments because they can get into another hospital system faster.

Patients needing intensive care often have to wait to be transferred out of the emergency department. The intensive care unit is so constrained, there are ICU-trained staff members working in the emergency department to care for patients awaiting transfer.

Daily occupancy exceeds 95 percent, a rate that’s risen steadily in the last five years. Hospital executives typically consider expansion when daily occupancy reaches 75 percent.

Uncompensated care costs continue to be a concern for hospital executives, Wallace said. But serving underprivileged patients, including providing specialty care, is part of the hospital’s mission.

“We continue to support and meet their needs and that could be a complicating factor as we go forward,” Wallace said. “We are progressing optimistically.”

The hospital system announced a deal in October to merge with St. Anthony’s, but the deal fell through in March.

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