Jul 26, 2022 - News

New VUMC tower announced

A rendering of the new VUMC tower
Rendering courtesy of VUMC

Meteoric growth in Middle Tennessee is spurring plans for Vanderbilt University Medical Center's newly announced $500 million expansion, which will put a new 15-story tower on the Nashville hospital campus.

VUMC CEO Jeff Balser tells Axios the region's population boom coincided with an explosion of patient needs. Hospital capacity hovers above 90% most of the time.

  • "The demand for Vanderbilt's services is at an all-time high," Balser says. "In order to meet the demands of the region, we just need a lot more space."

Why it matters: VUMC is a top regional resource for complex medical care, including organ transplants and complicated cancer surgeries.

  • Balser says the new tower will increase capacity for those kinds of specialized procedures.
  • It will go alongside 21st Avenue South and will become the hospital's de facto front door.

By the numbers: The tower will add about 180 inpatient beds and 10 operating rooms, along with radiology services, specialty clinics and office space.

  • The project also includes an addition of three floors and 600 spaces to the central garage.

State of play: Construction is expected to begin this summer. Officials say it will take four-and-a-half years to complete.

Flashback: Hospital officials began planning for gradual expansion in the years before the pandemic, transitioning three floors in the Medical Center East building from clinic space to patient beds.

  • When COVID-19 hit, these were quickly designated as ICU beds for pandemic patients.
  • After COVID hospitalizations ticked down, Balser says, demand in other areas increased to fill the void, leading officials to plot out a more ambitious expansion plan.

Zoom out: Balser says the hospital project won't slow VUMC's growth in other sectors. VUMC's network of regional hospitals and clinics is still expanding, too.

  • Talks remain underway to lease a portion of the Hickory Hollow Mall space for an Antioch health care site.
  • Balser says VUMC remains "very much engaged with the mayor's team on that project."
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