Froedtert Hospital Plans Expansion to Address Growth
Sept. 14, 2012 College News - Facing significant capacity constraints in surgical, outpatient and inpatient care areas, Froedtert Hospital will move forward with plans to construct a new building and renovate existing space on its academic medical center campus in Wauwatosa.
“As eastern Wisconsin’s only academic medical center, Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin serve as a referral nucleus for medicine’s most highly specialized services. Steady growth in demand for services on our campus has pushed us to capacity in several areas,” said Cathy Buck, president of Froedtert Hospital. “Because of our high degree of specialization, more than 6,000 patients requiring an advanced level of care were transferred to Froedtert from other facilities last year. This was a 27% increase over 2010.”
The proposed site for the 480,000-square-foot building, which will include underground parking, is on Doyne Avenue immediately west of Froedtert & The Medical College Cancer Center. The complete project cost, including equipment and furnishings, is approximately $117 million and will be financed by the proceeds of an upcoming bond issue.
The project is rooted in Froedtert’s “logical not lavish” construction philosophy, Buck said. “We base decisions to build on demand for services, and we don’t proceed until utilization outstrips capacity. We’ve delayed as long as possible and now absolutely need more space. After evaluating numerous options, we identified this as the only approach that allows us to cost-effectively address short- and long-term needs in surgical, outpatient and inpatient services.”
“We have outgrown our existing surgical and interventional procedure environments and need space to accommodate current and anticipated growth as well as changes in medical technology,” said Gary Seabrook, MD, senior director of surgical services for Froedtert & The Medical College. “We’ve moved more than 800 cases over the past year to an outpatient surgery center on our campus and plan to move an additional 1,000 in the coming year, yet we will still be at operating room capacity within the hospital.”
From 2001 to 2011, the number of surgeries at Froedtert Hospital increased by 72 percent, with more than 18,000 surgeries performed in 2011. Volumes in interventional services (image-guided diagnostic and treatment procedures that do not require open surgery) increased to nearly 9,000 cases in 2012. The hospital currently provides surgical and interventional services in four separate locations, including many operating rooms designed in the 1970s.
“Many complex procedures rely on advanced technologies that require more space and specialized facilities. By today’s standards, operating rooms are typically 600 to 800 square feet, yet nearly half of our 29 operating rooms are less than 500 square feet,” Seabrook said. “This building will be the linchpin for integrating existing and new space, bringing together surgical, interventional and intensive care areas on a single, centrally located floor. Our intent is to create a seamless service environment that eliminates redundancy, enhances patient flow and safety, optimizes operational efficiency and supports new technology adoption. Few hospitals in the nation have created this integrated environment.”
The project also will accommodate growth in outpatient care. Reflecting national trends, Froedtert & The Medical College have seen increases in outpatient volume, with the number of visits to its campus approaching one million in 2011.
“As a health system, we seek to be most cost-effective by providing the right care at the right place at the right time,” said Cathy Jacobson, president and chief executive officer of Froedtert Health. “We have 32 clinics across a three-county area and offer Medical College specialists at many of them. Froedtert & The Medical College recently opened a large multi-specialty clinic at St. Joseph’s Hospital in West Bend, and broke ground on a multi-specialty outpatient medical facility in New Berlin. This is part of an effort to respond to demand by making our services available in convenient community locations. However, we still face serious capacity constraints in key services at the academic medical center.”
The new building will house Froedtert & The Medical College Heart and Vascular Center, which has seen a 60% increase in outpatient volume since 2003 yet occupies cramped, inefficient space designed by Milwaukee County Hospital in the 1980s.
As part of the project, the hospital will expand its 30-year-old cardiovascular intensive care unit by 16 beds and relocate it to space currently occupied by an inpatient care unit. A shelled floor in the hospital’s north tower will be built out to accommodate this displaced inpatient unit.
Froedtert & The Medical College Transplant Center also will be housed in the new building. This will replace the current clinic, which has outgrown its space in a location originally designed in the 1980s, and add operational efficiencies and convenience for patients by uniting transplant-related services in a single area.
Transplant Center visits have nearly tripled in the past 10 years. Additional growth is expected from the Medical College of Wisconsin’s recent addition of internationally recognized transplant surgeons and a new collaboration among Froedtert Hospital, the Medical College, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, and the BloodCenter of Wisconsin to form a pediatric and adult solid organ transplant program.
Building design will allow for the option to add inpatient floors if needed in the future. Froedtert Hospital currently operates 500 inpatient beds, and its occupancy rate is among the highest in the state, averaging 79% annually and often exceeding 90%.
Among the approvals required for construction is permission from the Wisconsin State Historical Society. A portion of the planned building site includes an existing, unmarked cemetery used by Milwaukee County to bury paupers during the early 1900s. Froedtert Hospital is working with the historical society and has filed the necessary documents to request approval to remove the burials.
“After extensively reviewing our building options, we determined that this site provides the best and perhaps the only real location for the future construction development needed by the hospital,” said Buck. “We are aware of the sensitivities involved and will move forward with the utmost respect for the dignity of those buried here.
If approved, construction would begin before year-end with a target completion date in 2014.
Froedtert Hospital is a 500-bed academic medical center staffed by faculty of the Medical College of Wisconsin. It serves as an eastern Wisconsin referral center for advanced medical practice care in 37 specialties and subspecialties. It is a major training and research facility with more than 1,000 medical, nursing and health technical students in training and over 2,000 active clinical trials each year. Froedtert, a member of Froedtert Health, operates the region’s only adult Level I Trauma Center. For more information, visit froedtert.com.