Hospital set for $218 million update UM Medical System plans to replace obsolete facilities

March 12, 1996|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

In its largest and most expensive capital project ever launched, the University of Maryland Medical System plans to spend $218 million to replace outmoded surgical, emergency and diagnostic facilities at its downtown Baltimore medical center.

The 320,000-square-foot facility represents the medical system's most ambitious effort yet to become the "provider of choice" for patients who need highly specialized health care.

The plan, which is subject to approval by the General Assembly and others, is part of a $450 million campaign that also includes construction of seven UniversityCare family health centers in West Baltimore and at least three "specialty care" physicians buildings elsewhere in Central Maryland.

The $218 million project will be one of the most expensive building ventures downtown in the late 1990s, costing even more than the $175 million football stadium planned for Camden Yards. It will bring to more than $1 billion the investment in new buildings in the UniversityCenter section of West Baltimore, including new structures for the University of Mary- land at Baltimore.

Administrators are seeking $70 million from the state over the next seven years to cover one-third of the total cost of the downtown medical facilities, which are planned for the north side of Lombard Street between Greene and Penn streets. The remaining two-thirds of the funds would come from bond sales, private donations and operating revenue.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening included $7 million for the project in his capital budget request for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The governor has indicated that he would support additional funds in future years as part of the state's capital budget, including another $38 million by mid-2000. The General Assembly also must approve any allocation of state funds, and members are scheduled to hold hearings on the $7 million request this month.

The project is part of a continuous program to replace facilities that were constructed decades ago and are obsolete, according to John W. Ashworth III, the medical system's senior vice president for strategic planning, business development and communications.

It also represents a commitment by the medical system to "recycle the block" bounded by Greene, Lombard, Penn and Baltimore streets to make the downtown medical center "home base" for a variety of highly specialized services for adults, children and newborns, Mr. Ashworth said.

"We are not expanding," he stressed. "We are primarily replacing outmoded facilities. We want to be the tertiary and quaternary care provider of choice," he said, referring to the highly specialized types of care that hospitals provide. "That's our goal."

The $130 million first phase to update facilities ran from 1981 to 1990 and included construction of the Maryland Shock Trauma Center. The $170 million second phase lasted from 1990 to 1996 and involved completion of the $90 million Homer Gudelsky Patient Tower at Lombard and Greene streets.

The Lombard Street project is considered the largest single component of the third phase, which is to last from 1996 to 2003 and cost a total of $450 million. The new structure along Lombard Street will cost about $140 million, and another $78 million will be used to design and build facilities elsewhere within the UniversityCenter section of West Baltimore.

A preliminary rendering indicates that the replacement facility will rise seven stories and will be linked to the Gudelsky tower, which opened in the fall of 1993.

The facility will contain space for modernized surgical, emergency and diagnostic imaging services; replace the remaining inpatient beds in the 55-year-old south hospital; and consolidate women's and children's inpatient units.

Preliminary plans call for a new emergency department on the ground floor; diagnostic imaging and support space on the first floor; surgical suites and surgical support facilities on the second floor; and mechanical space on the third floor. Floors four, five and six will be for women's and children's health care. The use of the seventh floor is yet to be determined.

A new main entrance for the emergency center will be created near the northeast corner of Penn and Lombard streets to replace the current emergency entrance on West Baltimore Street.

The project also includes demolition and replacement of six smaller buildings on the medical campus, including structures that house the Maryland Institute of Emergency Medical Services and portions of the University of Maryland School of Nursing. In addition, it includes partial renovation of the north hospital for specialty ambulatory services and partial renovation of the south hospital for support services.

The timetable calls for land on Lombard Street to be cleared over the next 18 to 24 months to make way for the replacement facility. Construction would begin in 1998 and be complete by 2002.

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