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MTMC gets final go ahead for new hospital

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An rendering of the new hospital's lobby.
Middle Tennessee Medical Center will break ground on its new 560,000-square-foot, $268 million facility, the centerpiece of the Murfreesboro Gateway, in early 2008.

Site preparation and foundation work will begin immediately adjacent to where the hospital’s ambulatory surgery facility and medical office building is currently under construction. The project is slated for completion by the last quarter of 2010.

“I am really quite pleased that they have been given the go ahead,” said Murfreesboro Mayor Tommy Bragg. “I look forward to the beginning of construction. I know they will be a great new addition to the community in the new location.

“I think the design certainly promotes the fact that the hospital is going to be an entity, which will be in our community at least as long as our current hospital is,” he said.

The forthcoming hospital and the purchase of 68 acres off what became Medical Center Parkway provided the momentum for the development of the Murfreesboro Gateway, a 400-acre city of Murfreesboro developed mixed-use complex, containing upscale retail and Class A office space. Two medical office buildings have been constructed on the thoroughfare so far and the Murfreesboro Medical Clinic, a 56-physician multi-specialty medical practice, plans to relocate to the Gateway.

With the growing Rutherford County population and expansion of hospital services, there has been a need for a new hospital for some time, MTMC president and chief executive officer Gordon Ferguson indicated.

“There has been times when our existing number of beds has really been inadequate,” he said. “The need is definitely there.”

MTMC began discussions about building the new 286 all-private room facility nine years ago.

MTMC currently operates in a 350,000-square-foot facility with 216 patient beds.

“We know that by being more accessible and by being closer to the interstate we are going to see an increase in overall (patient) volume,” Ferguson said.

MTMC has one of the busiest emergency departments in Middle Tennessee already. The ER treats more than 60,000 patients each year.

“The new MTMC facility represents the tremendous commitment of Saint Thomas Health Services to this region,” said Jim Houser, president and chief executive officer for Saint Thomas Health Services and Ascension Health’s ministry market leader for Nashville and Birmingham. “We have a vibrant health ministry that serves all of Middle Tennessee through our hospitals, chest pain centers, ambulatory facilities and partnerships with local providers. The new MTMC will provide expanded services and innovative models for care for all of southern Middle Tennessee. The aspect that will not change is the faith-based, caring environment that people in this region expect from us.”

The new facility is a modern take on the traditional hospital design, hospital officials said. Its interior was designed to be easily navigated by patients and visitors. Its exterior was designed to compliment the community and be aesthetically pleasing for decades to come.

“The centerpiece is our chapel. As you enter into the hospital, there is a very visible chapel,” Ferguson said. “Everything is built around it.”

The entrance of the hospital opens into a two-level atrium.

“I think what we have attempted to do in our design is look at it from both the patient's perspective and the associate's perspective,” Ferguson said. “There is a lot of emphasis right now on improving safety and quality in healthcare institutions. We believe the room design we have decided upon really maximizes patient safety.”

Each patient room is standardized and has the same layout.

The hospital has horizontal and vertical expansion space. A vertical expansion would allow for the addition of 144 more beds to the facility.

Nashville-based Gresham Smith and Partners designed the six- and seven-story facility. Turner Universal was selected as the construction manager on the project.

The Christy-Houston Foundation, which is devoted to improving the quality of life in Rutherford County with an emphasis on healthcare, has awarded MTMC a grant for $10 million, to be paid out in $1 million increments over the next 10 years, toward the construction of the facility. The foundation has provided the largest gift in the hospital’s capital campaign to raise funds to support the construction of the new hospital.

“This substantial lead gift is significant to our capital campaign in numerous ways,” said Nicholas Perlick, executive director of the MTMC Foundation. “It not only pushes us considerably closer to our goal, it also draws profound attention to this effort and will inspire the community to contribute.”

To show their thanks, MTMC will name its 21,000-square-foot emergency department at the new facility after the foundation, which was established with the funds from the 1986 purchase of MTMC by Baptist Hospital and Saint Thomas Hospital.

MTMC purchased the 68-acre site off Medical Center Parkway with a $3 million grant from the Christy-Houston Foundation in 2002.

Erin Edgemon can be reached at 869-0812 and at eedgemon@murfreesboropost.com.
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