Historic Expansion of University Hospital Officially Underway

March 20, 2010
Contact: Leni Kirkman, Julie Wiley 210-358-2335/Pager: 203-3300

University Health System’s $899.4 Million Construction Program Will Continue for Five Years

With golden shovels in hand, University Health System officials and members of the Bexar County Commissioners Court turned the first bit of dirt in the parking lot of University Hospital, officially breaking ground for a massive parking garage. The event, held Saturday morning, also served to kick off one of the largest construction programs in Bexar County history.

Saturday’s groundbreaking for a 3,300-space parking garage was the first of three celebrations planned for University Health System’s $899.4 million Target 2012: Capital Improvement Program which also includes a new 10-story, one million square-foot tower at University Hospital, a large diagnostic and treatment building at University Health System - Robert B. Green Campus, as well as parking/landscape enhancements and significant renovations at both locations. Construction on the new clinical building downtown will get underway in December, and the new hospital tower will break ground in January 2011. The first of these new healthcare facilities will begin opening in 2012.

Once completed, University Hospital will have a new Emergency Center that is more than double the size of the existing one, new state-of-the-art operating suites, and 713 single-occupancy patient rooms that will maximize privacy, reduce infection control concerns and provide adequate space for patients’ family members. The new diagnostic and treatment building at University Health System - Robert B. Green Campus will expand opportunities for patients to receive services, including advanced specialty care, outside the hospital, in a more convenient location. “Our goal is to provide the highest quality care in the most appropriate setting,” said University Health System President/CEO George B. Hernández, Jr. “This project will position our academic medical center and Level I trauma center to meet the needs of Bexar County and the growing South Texas trauma region well into the future.”

The Capital Improvement Program was developed as part of an extensive, multi-year planning process that involved dozens of University Health System staff members and physicians working with a team of consultants. “I am extremely proud of and thankful to everyone involved in the hard work that brought us to this milestone, but I would especially like to recognize the Bexar County Commissioners Court and our Board of Managers,” Hernández added. “Without their leadership and courage, we would not be standing here today embarking on this much-needed expansion and renovation initiative.”

University Health System Board of Managers Chair Dr. Roberto L. Jimenez echoed Hernández’s praise. “We are so fortunate to live in a community, with strong leadership, dedicated to assuring access to high quality healthcare for all. University Health System has a unique mission to provide all levels of care, from preventive health screenings to the most complex surgical procedures,” he said. “And through our partnership with the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, we are committed to training the next generation of healthcare providers and developing new and better ways to provide care and improve patient outcomes through clinical research. These new facilities will enable your health system to fulfill its mission and make a positive impact on the lives of countless individuals and families for many years to come.”

University Health System is putting $120 million in cash reserves toward funding the $899.4 million project and Bexar County Commissioners approved financing the balance through certificates of obligation. Their decision to allow the project to move forward, without the delay that would have resulted from a county-wide referendum, resulted in University Health System saving more than $45 million in finance costs. The savings are due to market timing and the availability of Build America Bonds, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Given the downturn in the economy, market conditions to purchase construction-related goods and services are also very favorable and there has been a great deal of interest on the project. “They say timing is everything,” said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff. “And that has certainly been the case with this project. We not only have the best national firms working to create facilities that will be efficient, state-of-the-art and the pride of Bexar County, this project also offers local businesses and subcontractors a tremendous opportunity to earn money and gain valuable experience. This is exactly what our community needs today and for the future.