Spartanburg Medical Center plans to demolish a historic section of the hospital, build a new patient wing and construct a new main entrance facing Church Street.
The large-scale project is part of Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System's master facility plan. The health care system expects to invest more than $500 million in the multi-phase project over the next 10 to 15 years.
“One of the things we don't really have right now is a recognizable main entrance,” said Phil Feisal, the medical center's president. He added that when the original hospital was built in 1921, the main entrance faced Church Street.
Now “most people come in the Montgomery Tower (on Wood Street), a lot of people enter from the Outpatient Center and a lot of people enter in the Emergency Department. We decided we wanted to return to Church Street,” he added.
To construct the new entrance, plans call for the demolition of the oldest portion of the hospital — the original brick building on Church Street which contains 163 beds.
Mark Aycock, the health care system's chief operating officer, said he realizes the building contains a lot of history, but it doesn't fit in very well with the hospital's plans.
“Every building has a useful life,” he said. “It's something that has been in service and has helped patients for more than 100 years,
but it is not really conducive to the amount of equipment and things that we require in a patient's room for care these days. It's just not cost-effective, and that's the name of the game with what we are trying to do with health care now.”
Feisal said he hopes the changes make it easier for patients and visitors to find their way around the hospital, which covers more than 1.6 million square feet and has 45 elevators.
“Way-finding here is a big issue.” he said.
For example, Fiesal said there are about 43 possible ways to get from his office — located on the fourth floor in the brick portion — to the Bearden and Josey Center for Breast Health. He said there is a point in the hospital that he calls “the Bermuda Triangle” where several hallways converge.
“If you stand in that hallway for 15 minutes, we will help a half dozen people find where they are going,” he said. “People always get lost right there and we have got to eliminate that. We are trying to create an environment that is so much easier for our patients to navigate.”
The Master Facility Plan has been in the works since 2002, Feisal said. In 2004, the hospital built its current emergency department with plans for expansion in mind. The building includes three floors worth of “shell space” that is currently used for storage. When construction begins, patient rooms will be temporarily moved to these floors, which range in size from 27,000 square feet to 41,000 square feet.
In 2013, the hospital began working with Charlotte-based HDR Architecture, an international firm that specializes in health care design and architecture. Bruce Moore, the company's healthcare principle and project manager, said he's excited to be involved with Spartanburg Regional's project.
He, too, pointed out that way-finding in the hospital is a problem and the construction of a new main entrance facing Church Street should help reduce some directional confusion among patients and family members.
One long, wide corridor would run from the entrance all the way through the hospital and there would be separate corridors for food services and other employees. As for demolishing the oldest section of the hospital, he said the area is outdated.
“Those older buildings really do have a great deal of inefficiencies built into them and don't really meet any kind of standard of care that we recommend or that would be considered best practice today,” he said during a phone interview Thursday. “From an energy efficient standpoint, those older buildings take a lot of dollars to provide light and heat and cooling.”
This will be the hospital's first major construction project since 2008, when the Bearden Josey Center for Breast Health was constructed.
Plans also involve demolishing the Heart Center located on the backside of the hospital. The 100,000 square foot facility was built in 1988 and offers cardiac services ranging from outpatient procedures to cutting-edge surgeries.
The Center for Restorative Care, a 97-bed long-term, acute-care hospital now located on Serpentine Drive will be moved to the main building, according to plans. A new parking garage could be built adjacent to the new entrance and the current parking garage on Wood Street would be used by employees.
Feisal said the hospital is not going to lose any beds through this process. He said heart services would be moved to another part of the hospital and a new patient wing would be added near the emergency department to make up for rooms lost when the old portion is razed.
Healthcare system management will take the first portion of this multi-phase plan to its board of trustees near the end of 2014.
Feisal said construction should begin in the next two to three years, but it could take 10 to 15 years to complete the project.
“We want to ensure that we create a campus that is structurally able to handle what goes on in the future,” he said. “To continue to be competitive, certainly on the Spartanburg campus, we have to re-establish our facilities. They are aging.”