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Construction for New 10-Story Tower Kicks Off at University Hospital

New Facilities Will Bring the Highest Level of Academic Medicine to Bexar County & Beyond

Contact: Leni Kirkman, Julie Wiley
210-358-2335/Pager: 203-3300

With golden shovels in hand, adults and children, whose lives were saved at University Hospital, turned the first bit of dirt for a new state-of-the-art, 10-story tower at University Hospital at a special ceremony Friday morning. The event, held atop a parking garage that will be partially demolished to make room for the new medical facility, included Jane Swanson, the lone survivor of the Century 21 shooting in 2003 and Sandra Haggray, a professional singer and double lung transplant recipient. The $778 million building set to open in early 2014, is part of one of the largest construction programs in Bexar County history.

Directly in front of the existing hospital, the tower will include a new and expanded Emergency Center, two floors of advanced operating suites and a tower filled with single-patient hospital rooms. The project is part of University Health System’s $899.4 million Capital Improvement Program to expand and renovate facilities at University Hospital and its downtown Robert B. Green Campus.

“Today, we bring the final piece of an extensive Master Facility Planning process to life. We celebrate the fact that ‘groundbreaking healthcare for the people of Bexar County and beyond’ is well on its way to becoming reality,” said George B. Hernández, Jr., president/CEO of University Health System.

University Health System is owned by the taxpayers of Bexar County. About 26 percent of its operating budget comes from local property taxes. County Judge Nelson Wolff was on-hand to offer thanks to people of Bexar County for their support for this much-needed expansion.

He was inspired by the courage and strength of the patients like Swanson and Haggray, along with the others who took part in today’s event, including Nicholas Velasquez, a 10-year-old DWI crash survivor, Chaciti McMorris, a 7-year-old girl who was cared for at University Hospital’s Pediatric Burn Center and Larry Price, a San Antonio police officer who underwent a complex operation to prevent a deadly form of cancer. “These five people represent the tens of thousands of people who come through the doors of that building behind me every year. Some walk through the front doors, others come in on a gurney through the Emergency Room,” said Wolff. “They all come with an expectation that expert doctors, nurses, operating rooms and life-saving equipment are here for them when they need it most, when their lives might depend on these resources.”

Bexar County Hospital District Board of Managers Chairman Dr. Roberto L. Jimenez, added, “No one wants to be in the hospital, but if you do have to be an inpatient, this is where everyone will want to come. We already have the best doctors and nurses. With this new tower, we will set the bar at a whole new level for excellence.”

Jimenez said that, in partnership with the UT Health Science Center School of Medicine, University Health System is committed to training the next generation of healthcare providers and developing new and better ways to provide care and improve patient outcomes through clinical research. He added the new hospital tower will also help reduce wait times, expand access, and offer the latest technologies and advanced treatment options.

As University Health System grows to meet the healthcare needs of the community and trauma region, the organization is demonstrating its responsibility to care for the environment. University Health System has announced they are seeking Gold Certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), and implementing “green design” strategies to achieve energy savings, water efficiency and reduction in CO2 emissions. “We will accomplish this goal while creating spaces that will be efficient, welcoming and healing,” added Hernández.

“The transformation of the Health System is the direct result of the leadership and support of the Bexar County Hospital District Board of Managers and the members of the Bexar County Commissioners Court, who recognized the critical need for expansion and resolved to make it happen,” Hernández said.

The financing plans calls for about 41 percent of the $899.4 million project to be funded by University Health System (without additional tax revenue) through $120 million in cash reserves and another $251.7 million in operational improvements. The debt funded by the taxpayers totals $527.7 million or about 57 percent of the cost of the project. The estimated bond issuance rate in 2008 was 5.41 percent but, with the help of our financial advisors, Build America Bonds and good market timing, the actual interest rate will average 4.34 percent. That means taxpayers will save $176.7 million in interest cost over the life of the debt.

Hernández concluded his remarks at the groundbreaking by quoting Doug Mitchell, the man at the helm of the Bexar County Hospital District in 1968: “Without hesitation and without qualification, we’re going to give the very best care in the world in this teaching hospital.”

For more information about University Health System’s Capital Improvement Program, please visit our Capital Improvement Program Overview.

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