While the new building construction focus shifts from the medical education building and the Translational Research Center to the Children’s of Mississippi expansion, seen here, a number of projects now under way at UMMC promise to meet a vital need for the state: additional adult patient capacity.
While the new building construction focus shifts from the medical education building and the Translational Research Center to the Children’s of Mississippi expansion, seen here, a number of projects now under way at UMMC promise to meet a vital need for the state: additional adult patient capacity.
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Increasing capacity central to UMMC's ongoing construction plans

Published on Monday, November 12, 2018

By: Bruce Coleman

With the successful opening of the medical education building and the Translational Research Center last year, many are looking to the planned 2020 opening of the Children’s of Mississippi expansion as the “next big thing” in construction at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

While the Children’s expansion will meet a significant need for Mississippi, several ongoing capital projects at UMMC continue to make incremental improvements to address an issue that is no less important: expanding adult patient capacity on the institution’s main Jackson campus.

Portrait of Jonathan Wilson

“They may not be as publicized as the opening of a new building, but multiple construction projects will provide some relief where our capacity has been limited,” said Dr. Jonathan Wilson, UMMC chief administrative officer. “Our construction projects are all being driven by the Campus Master Plan, which is guided by the Strategic Plan for the institution, so we can have the capacity to meet the health care demands from across our state.

“By renovating existing space, we’re trying to be good stewards of our resources.”

Portrait of Terri Gillespie

According to Terri Gillespie, chief nursing executive and clinical services officer, the improvements will bolster the Medical Center’s position as the exclusive provider of numerous specialties for adult patients in Mississippi.

“Put simply, the adult hospitals on the Jackson campus are capacity constrained,” Gillespie said. “As the only provider in the state for a number of specialties and as the only provider in the state that has the capability of caring for the sickest of the sick, our services are significantly in demand. Unless we expand our bed and procedural capacity, we cannot accommodate these health care needs.

“These projects will allow the adult hospitals to grow in an effort to better serve patients and other health care providers throughout the state and surrounding region.”

Two capital projects are already underway: the repurposing of offices on 2West back into patient bedrooms, resulting in 13 additional beds by spring 2019; and the creation of a clinical trials unit, which will add 22 beds and eight infusion chairs by June 2019.

More projects on the horizon include renovation of the main hospital pharmacy; creation of an 18-bed intensive care unit on the sixth floor of the critical care tower; construction of a new Clinical Research Unit in the south wing of the seventh floor of University Hospital; expansion of day surgery and patient care units into the sixth and seventh floors of University Hospital; renovation of a clinic for pre-anesthesia testing in the recently vacated University Physicians Pavilion Lab; and expansion of adult operating room capacity.

Longer-term efforts include the building out of remaining “shell” spaces in University Hospital into an additional medical-surgical unit and a behavioral health unit.

“The importance of these projects is to increase inpatient capacity so we have more room for the patients we get from all over the state,” Wilson said.

Current construction at UMMC isn’t limited to patient capacity: Improving and maintaining the aesthetic and functional appeal of the institution’s surroundings is another objective. These projects include the restoration of the canopied entrance to the original School of Medicine, reroofing the University Physicians Pavilion and repairing the sidewalks in front of University Hospital.

Portrait of Patrick Casey

“The original School of Medicine canopy has been deteriorating, so we have just completed a historic restoration,” said Patrick Casey, executive director of the Office of Planning, Design and Construction. “The Department of Archives and History considers the original School of Medicine structure a historically significant structure, so the restoration project brought the canopy back to its original 1955 appearance.

”Additionally, the sidewalk at the turnaround in front of the adult hospital entrance has been heaving due to soil movement, which is prevalent in this region. We have plans under way to remove the broken concrete, level it and fix it, which will be completed in the first quarter of 2019.”

Casey referenced repairs to campus roads, the pressure-washing of buildings and the upgrading of fluorescent lighting to LED lights in various buildings as significant improvements to the campus environment that employees, students and visitors will welcome. And Medical Center leaders were “heavily involved” in managing safety enhancement projects by the Mississippi Department of Transportation, which included a revamped crosswalk and a new HAWK beacon at the North State Street entrances to the Medical Center.

Inspecting the new HAWK Beacon placed at one of the North State Street entrances to the UMMC campus are, from left, Travis McCoy, Neel-Schaffer traffic engineer; Johnny Jenkins, Campus Police sergeant; Mark Sorrell, Neel-Schaffer traffic engineer; Charles Douglas, Campus Police captain; and Mike Morrow, Hemphill Construction supervisor.

According to Wilson, all Medical Center construction projects, both large and small, are helping to bring the institution’s threefold mission of health care, academic and research excellence into focus.

“We’re trying to take the Strategic Plan from something abstract and visionary to something concrete and tangible with the end goal of having the facilities on campus to enhance our ability to meet the goals we set for ourselves,” Wilson said. “We have to make sure before we make a significant investment in new construction that we have a solid operational plan to ensure we are building what we need.

“These construction projects are all designed to put the facilities in place so we can execute on the institution’s goals.”