$200 million Baptist tower tops out

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  • | 12:00 p.m. July 21, 2011
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By Karen Brune Mathis

Managing Editor

Baptist Health plans to “top out” today the structural steel phase of its $200 million patient tower under construction for Baptist Medical Center and Wolfson Children’s Hospital on its Downtown Southbank campus.

The 340,000-square-foot, 11-story patient tower, which will be completed in December 2012, will provide adult and pediatric services.

A 4 p.m. ceremony will include placing the final structural steel beam on the structure. The beam is signed by Baptist Health patients, physicians, employees and volunteers.

Baptist Health leaders will talk about the services that will be provided in the new patient tower, which include:

• An 11-bed pediatric inpatient behavioral health unit.

• Expanded pediatric imaging services, equipped with a new 3 Tesla MRI.

• Two adult neurosurgery operating suites equipped with image-guided radiosurgery technology to nonsurgically treat conditions of the head, neck and spine, as well as for use in orthopaedic procedures.

• Intra-operative iMRI and iCT technology, shared between the adult and pediatric hospitals, allowing physicians to evaluate patients while they are still under anesthesia. Baptist Health said it will be the first health system in North America to provide real-time imaging tests to neurosurgeons as they perform pediatric and adult brain surgery and procedures, so they won’t have to wait until after surgery to determine whether all of the targeted tissue was removed.

• A 12-bed children’s cardiovascular intensive care unit, children’s cardiovascular operating suite and pediatric neurosurgery operating suite.

• A 24-bed adult neurology/ neurosurgery intensive care unit.

• Pediatric and adult hematology/oncology inpatient units.

• Larger rooms to accommodate families and other visitors.

• Playrooms and game rooms for pediatric patients.

• Separate elevator access to pediatric and adult patient floors for enhanced security.

“Being good stewards of resources was at the forefront of planning for the new patient tower,” said Hugh Greene, president and CEO of Baptist Health, in a statement.

“By building up, rather than out, Baptist Health is making the best use of existing space, without the added expense of expanding its environmental footprint. Technology will be shared by adult and pediatric services to maximize our investment in state-of-the-art equipment,” he said.

John Wilbanks, COO for Baptist Health, said the project also created construction jobs.

A “topping out” ceremony is a longtime custom in the construction industry.

Construction will continue with precast and glass work as well as the completion of interior space.

The construction team included Batson-Cook Construction, Stanley Beaman & Sears Architects and TLC (Tilden Lobnitz Cooper) Engineering, according to Baptist Health.

Baptist Health filed an application in June 2010 with the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission Downtown Development Review Board for the project.

Baptist Health did not ask for public funds, just development rights and in return promised public improvements.

Baptist, a full-service medical center, said at the time it planned a combination adult and pediatric replacement bed tower and surgery, diagnostic and treatment center.

The project was designed to replace aging facilities that were removed.

The new tower was shown as a 339,404-square-foot building.

According to the summary, Baptist Medical Center presented conceptual plans to the commission’s Downtown Development Review Board in May 2008 and received conceptual approval. Construction was put on hold until last year.

Baptist Medical Center said in the summary it didn’t expect to hire additional employees but intended to maintain current employee levels.

The redevelopment agreement shows that the developer, Southern Baptist Hospital of Florida Inc., promised to spend more than $3 million in public improvements.

Baptist Health is a faith-based, mission-driven system consisting of Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville and Baptist Heart Hospital; Baptist Medical Center Beaches; Baptist Medical Center Nassau; Baptist Medical Center South; and Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

Wolfson is a pediatric referral hospital serving the children of North Florida, Southeast Georgia and beyond.

“Baptist Health is pleased to be in the financial position to meet the needs of our community, even during challenging economic times,” said Greene.

Public Relations Director Cindy Hamilton said the new tower will have 203 beds, but they are not additional. Semiprivate rooms in the current facility will become private rooms, she said.

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