As Greater Cincinnati’s Level I trauma center for adults, UC Medical Center provides specialty and subspecialty care for some of the most critically ill patients in the community. Often, that care begins within the hospital’s emergency department.
On Tuesday, UC Health broke ground on a 41,000 square-foot expansion of the emergency department (ED) at UC Medical Center. The long-awaited project will significantly expand capacity and improve flow. The existing 35,000 square-foot emergency department, which is 30 years old, will also be renovated. Patient care will not be interrupted during the project.
The ED expansion and renovation are part of the $221 million “Forward” project announced in October 2019. It includes numerous projects across UC Health’s Clifton Campus, which spans 14 acres in the heart of Cincinnati’s Uptown district. The campus includes 17 buildings that total 1.7 million gross square feet. All construction will occur within UC Health’s existing footprint, as the health system innovates to provide world-class care in a healing environment. It is the largest capital project in the health system’s history.
“This investment is about more than simply new facilities. These projects will significantly improve the way we serve our patients, from how patients access our campus to how our clinicians deliver care every day,” said UC Health Executive Vice President & Chief Medical Officer Evaline A. Alessandrini, MD. “This is an exciting time to be part of UC Health.”
In FY20, UC Health had more than 114,000 emergency department and trauma visits at UC Medical Center and West Chester Hospital, and the health system accepted more than 8,000 patients transferred from other hospitals.
In addition to patient care, UC Health’s emergency medicine program is also known nationally for research and teaching.
The UC Department of Emergency Medicine is home to the first residency training program in the U.S., and the program celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2020. The department attracts top medical students from across the country to train in Cincinnati, and its faculty are national leaders in clinical teaching and research.
“I’m proud to be part of the world-class emergency medicine program at UC Health and the University of Cincinnati. It is our honor and privilege to usher in this new chapter in our rich legacy, leading the way both in our region and in our country,” said Arthur M. Pancioli, MD, Richard C. Levy Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the UC College of Medicine and a UC Health physician.
The UC Medical Center emergency department expansion and renovation will improve capacity and patient flow, including reconfigured access for patient arrivals by ambulances or vehicles. The new emergency department tower will include an observation unit, a flexible intensive care unit, “surge capacity” for emergency or crisis situations, a shelled floor for future inpatient care use, and a top mechanical floor that will enable a future vertical build of the tower.
“We are proud of the outstanding care that our emergency department team provides every day,” said Tina Koch, RN, a nurse at UC Medical Center for 17 years. “This represents an investment in our patients and our people and will allow us to care for more patients in need.”
A team of experienced healthcare design, engineering and construction firms is leading the Forward project: the global firm CannonDesign oversees project design, and Cincinnati-based Messer Construction Co. is the construction manager. Ohio-based HPlex Solutions serves as the owner’s representative to assist in managing the project.
CannonDesign’s team for the FORWARD project includes several experienced engineering and planning firms: Heapy Engineering, THP and The Kleingers Group. The team also includes Blue Cottage, a medical planning subsidiary firm of CannonDesign. Messer’s team includes TriVersity Construction Group.
“The new emergency department and surgery building, coupled with the multitude of other major projects, will serve to enhance and reshape UC Health’s Clifton Campus,” said Bob Feldbauer, vice president of facilities for UC Health.
The revitalization of UC Health’s Clifton Campus began in 2017, when the health system broke ground on the $68 million UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute outpatient building, which opened in April 2019.
In February 2019, UC Health also announced $30 million in improvements to the Clifton Campus, including improved wayfinding and the renovation of the UC Medical Center lobby and main entrance. That work is also underway.