New hospital tower expected to bring more jobs, faster care

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Reported by: Ian Silver
Updated: 12/04/2012 9:24 am Published: 12/03/2012 5:53 pm

A new tower is taking shape at St. Francis Hospital in south Tulsa.

The final structural beam was lifted into place at a "topping off" ceremony on Monday.

The tower will house a new Trauma Emergency Center (TEC) as well as an expanded Intensive Care Unit and two rooftop helicopter pads.

The current TEC allows doctors to treat up to 44 patients at a time. The new one will be able to handle almost twice as many.

When complete, the tower will be seven stories tall and contain 500,000 square feet of space, 150 more patient beds, more surgery units, a new lobby and a new chapel. The total cost for the building will be $206 million.

"With the completion of this project we will sort of finish out what we started planning 10 years ago," Jake Henry Jr., CEO of St. Francis Health System, said.

The building will be completed by the summer of 2014, but the construction is already bringing big bucks into the area.

"[There are] approximately 600 workers we have on site," Henry said. "It's an economic impact with that labor force of about $200 to $300 million."

"After the construction's complete, it will be about a $144 million impact as we hire up to staff the new areas," Henry said.

"Somewhere between 100 and 200 [new jobs]."

But the new tower isn't just about economics.

With the Baby Boomer generation aging, an estimated 32 million more people are expected to need more regular health care by 2014, slowing down the system.

Across Tulsa people are already seeing the effects, with patients waiting longer
and longer to get seen by a doctor in emergency rooms.

"Currently, we are seeing almost 100,000 patients in our current facility, which was probably built for more like 60,000 patients," Kimberly Felten, Chairman of Emergency Medicine at St. Francis Hospital, said.

But with 85 TEC beds, doctors will be able to see up to 40,000 more patients each year.

"I think they're going to be seen in a faster manner, because we'll no longer be holding people in hallways waiting for a room assignment," Felten said.

The new tower is also being designed so that if there's ever a disaster with mass casualties, the building will be able to accept 14 ambulances at a time, and expand to 114 clinical station operating at the same time.

Construction on the new tower is expected to be completed in the summer of 2014.

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