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Baptist Breaks Ground On $615 Million Campus

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Baptist Healthcare
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Three years from now, the new Baptist Hospital will open its doors near the intersection of Brent Lane and Interstate 110. Ground was broken Friday for the 57-acre, $615 million facility.

“October 30, 1949 – our founding fathers broke ground on Baptist Hospital; and now, 71 years later to the day we once again break ground on a new Baptist campus,” said President and CEO Mark Faulkner.

He told the gathering – socially distanced and face coverings all – that the investment and construction of the new campus affirms Baptist’s commitment to the community.

“Our founding fathers designed a modern campus for those times; but health care has changed so rapidly,” said Faulkner. “So we find ourselves once again designing a modern campus, which will not only meet the needs of health care today, but certainly for generations to come.”

As the new hospital goes up and takes shape, it will also benefit the local economy.

“We will create over 4,200 construction-related jobs; over $200 million in construction wages, indirectly employ over 1,700 non-construction as well for over $74 million,” Faulkner said. “[An] over $250 million impact to our community.”

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Credit Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media
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Groundbreaking for new Baptist Hospital, near the intersection of Brent Ln. and Interstate 110.

The vast majority of firms hired to oversee the project and the work, says Faulkner, will be local companies.

“Local; minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned contractors,” Faulkner said. “In fact, 12 of 15, or 80%, of the contractors we’ve engaged thus far are local. It’s our intent to have an impact here on the community we serve.”

One common thread running through everyone’s remarks during the ceremony was about how health care has changed since the first Baptist Hospital opened in 1951.

“If you think about it, when we did the groundbreaking here 71 years ago, antibiotics were kind of a new thing; and saying the word ‘iron lung,’ people knew what that meant – that was a new thing as well,” said Dr. Paul Glisson, Baptist Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer.

“Now heart and lung transplant treatments and our modern [Intensive Care Units] that we have here,” said Glisson. “And in the last year we’ve had a dramatic shift in priorities. “And a lot of patients that we used to treat traditionally in the in-patient realm, is now being treated in the outpatient’s realm. And we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the use of Telehealth technology as well.”

Changes, says Glisson, have dramatically affected the role hospitals play in delivering health care to their communities.

“I think it’s important for us to continually pivot and address those needs in our area to be relevant in our community,” Glisson said. “Our medical staff has been intimately involved in the design of this new building and this new campus. We’ve spent the last year taking a deep dive into everything involved with this project.”

While the science and technology will be there, the new Baptist Hospital will also be heavy on the aesthetics. Chief Nursing Officer Cynde Gamache says the design is geared toward patient-centered care.

“Situating patients and their loved ones closer to where the care teams are providing for greater communication and response time; standardizing treatment spaces for consistency and efficiency,” said Gamache. “And distributing patient support areas throughout the units.”

The campus design and landscaping will also provide emotional and spiritual solace in part through outdoor, park-like surroundings.

“The chapel and the healing garden will serve as a centerpiece, offering a serene setting for spiritual nourishment and quiet reflection,” Gamache said. “Our town square will highlight these beautiful heritage oaks, and will feature walking paths, outdoor classrooms, and event space for the entire community.”

The new Baptist will be ten stories, 602,000 square-feet with 264 beds – 198 for medical and surgical; 54 in the intensive care unit, and 12 for labor and delivery. The facility will also house a Level-2 trauma center and space for surgeries and special cardiac care. Plus a retail pharmacy and a coffee shop.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.