In late September, leaders, employees and others gathered to help break ground on a 60,000 square foot construction and renovation project at the Branson hospital that, once complete, will provide patients and staff with access to a new Emergency Department, expanded CCU and more.
“This project will help us meet the growing needs of those who need us,” says William Mahoney, CEO of Cox Medical Center Branson. “It’s a statement of stability and confidence in our community.”
Crews will demolish the existing Medical Plaza Two building to make way for the new three floor, 42,000 square foot addition to the hospital, and renovate 18,000 square feet of space within the existing structure. Once complete, the construction will include, in addition to the Emergency Department and expanded intensive care area, a third floor of shell space to allow for future expansion.
The 31,000 square foot Emergency Department will include 32 private exam and treatment rooms as well as eight observation beds. It will also offer easy access to the existing imaging and laboratory departments at Cox Medical Center Branson. Built in 1992 and renovated in 2004, the current ED serves 37,000 patients every year. The new ED is being built with future growth in mind – providers will be able to care for 55,000-60,000 patients each year in this space – and improved flow will allow for quicker patient access to services.
“Branson is a growing community and the number of patients we serve is also increasing,” Mahoney says. “The expansion of our ED and CCU will allow us to expedite the treatment of our patients and get them back to enjoying the many exciting amenities our community has to offer.”
The expanded coronary care unit will be on the second floor of the new structure, and connect to the second floor of the current hospital. It will include 20 private patient rooms, plus a large, comfortable waiting area for families. The current ICU/CCU has 14 patient beds.
As with all major recent construction and renovation projects at CoxHealth, leaders used evidence-based design to plan these new spaces with a focus on patient safety, and staff and patient well-being. Different user groups are consulted, and research examined, during the design process to ensure the final product meets everyone’s needs.
Recent examples of projects completed using this process include the Meyer Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Hospital, the Cox South ED and ICU expansion, the CoxHealth Surgery Center and the new Cox South patient tower that is currently under construction. The end result is a beautiful, functional, state-of-the-art space that allows for the best medical care in a “healing environment,” with natural light, soothing colors and other features that benefit patients and their families.
The project has a $30.8 million price tag, financed in part by an April bond issuance – the same issuance funding the new tower construction at Cox South. At the time, leaders stated that even with the uncertainty facing the health care industry, building for expansion made sense, and that holds true today.
“We know that as time goes by more patients will need our care, and we must be ready,” says Steve Edwards, CoxHealth president and CEO. “To meet that need, we must expand – and given the historically low interest rates at the time of our bond issuance, we knew there would likely never be another time when expansion would be so affordable.”
In fact, an examination of the 30-year trend of interest rates shows that CoxHealth financed this project at a time when rates were near the lowest in history. “Rates have already increased 1.5 points since we issued our bonds,” Edwards says. “If we financed today, the bond issuance for our projects in Springfield and Branson would cost $42 million more due to the rate increase.”
During construction, departments that were housed in the Medical Plaza Two building have been relocated and traffic flow around the campus has been altered. The overall project includes major changes to campus access and navigation – a loop road, similar to the road around Cox South – is being constructed that will better connect the campus and help patients and visitors more easily find their way.
Altogether, these projects prepare Cox Medical Center Branson to meet the needs of the area, and they help CoxHealth fulfill its promise to the community. Mahoney says: “A few years ago, we were like many community hospitals, wondering what our next move should be so we could survive. Now the Branson community has confidence that we will have the resources we need to provide high-quality care, here at our local, full-service hospital.”