Emory Report
June 12, 2006
Volume 58, Number 32


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June 12 , 2006
Feasibility study accepted by Board of Trustees

BY ron Sauder

Emory trustees have formally accepted the results of a nine-month feasibility study on proposed replacement facilities for the current Emory University Hospital and Emory Clinic. Following the recommendation of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center board, the University’s Board of Trustees voted Thursday to authorize the preparation of architectural schematic designs for new hospital and outpatient facilities.

The healthcare facilities will be the anchor of an ambitious multi-year strategy by Emory to enhance the livability, accessibility, and vibrancy of its own campus as well as the surrounding Clifton community. Goals include restoring a walkable environment, creating a beautifully landscaped public realm, transforming Clifton and North Decatur roads, and expanding the concept of transportation.

The University has not yet selected an architect for the schematic design of the new health sciences complex, a process that could take up to three months. Actual preparation of the schematic drawings will then probably take an additional 12 months following the identification of an architect.

In accepting the feasibility study, the trustees endorsed a strategy for the new hospital and clinic that could require as long as a decade and cost as much as $2.2 billion to complete. Groundbreaking for a new clinic building depends on securing critical funding and would not be expected to occur before 2009, with preparatory work beginning in 2007. Groundbreaking for a new hospital building would not be expected to occur before 2014.

“This plan is designed to create the new campus infrastructure that will enable us to achieve our vision of more-integrated, patient-centered, and predictive health and healing,” said Michael Johns, executive vice president for health affairs and CEO of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center. “These new facilities will be designed to support research, patient care, and medical training in a new and more nimble way that sets the 21st century standard for teaching hospitals everywhere.”

Johns emphasized that there are several major, remaining decision points in the years ahead that will be critical in determining the eventual size and configuration of the new health sciences facilities. But as currently envisioned, they include a new Emory Clinic that will actually be a cluster of three buildings -- one for outpatient care, one for medical faculty offices, and one for medical research. They also include a new 700-bed Emory University Hospital that will feature underground parking, a spacious atrium, and compatible retail shops for the convenience of patients and visitors. The new facility will combine beds from the current Emory University Hospital and other Emory facilities on Clifton Road.

The eventual relocation of the Emory University Hospital to the east side of Clifton Road, across from the current 80-year-old hospital, was publicly announced as a long-range goal last fall. As envisioned in the facilities plan, conducted by Payette Associates of Boston, the hospital construction will be sequenced to follow on the heels of the Emory Clinic replacement.

“We are grateful for the board of trustees’ confidence and willingness to invest in the future of Emory Healthcare for the ultimate benefit of our patients, our community, our city and our state,” said John Fox, CEO of Emory Healthcare. “We do not have all the answers yet, and we do not even know all the precise questions we will encounter along the way. But together over the next 10 years we will build an Emory that is a source of pride and hope for everyone who needs the support of a more accessible, more navigable, and more patient-friendly health care system.”

Michael Mandl, executive vice president for finance and administration who is charged with overseeing Emory’s campus master plan, noted that Emory’s planning process, and indeed the results of the feasibility study, were enhanced by discussions that took place at many meetings with community groups and leaders. “We paid serious attention to the input we have been getting for the past year or more,” he said.

He said that Emory is in the process now of forming a broad-gauged Clifton community Partnership Advisory Group with a charter to promote open communications between Emory and its neighbors throughout the implementation of the master plan. “Emory investments can be a catalyst for public and private initiatives to enhance the quality of life in the community,” Mandl said. “Our goal is to enhance the livability and vibrancy of the entire Clifton community for the benefit of neighborhoods and businesses as well as Emory.”

Added President James Wagner: “We are well launched on an extraordinary plan to transform the health sciences at Emory to meet the needs of this new century. I commend Mike Mandl, Mike Johns, John Fox, the health sciences deans, and their faculty and staff for visionary work aimed at ensuring Emory remains a destination of choice as a university, a healthcare provider and an accessible, flourishing community.”