Renovations, Expansions Abound Throughout the Memphis Area
From eastern Arkansas to Germantown, Tennessee, the growth of medical development continues dramatically throughout the Mid-South in an effort to meet an ever-growing demand.
The explosion of medical facility renovations and expansions contribute to much of the development in the Memphis Medical District, but despite challenges such as land scarcity and population growth, medical development is not expected to slow down anytime soon in areas such as Germantown and DeSoto County, according to healthcare officials closely involved in the effort.
Nearly all development projects in the Medical District are expansions or renovations. Examples of this include the $275 million Methodist University Hospital Tower modernization and expansion, now halfway completed; the 10-year expansion and modernization at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), now in its second phase; and the $1 billion capital expansion at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, now well underway.
Outside Memphis in areas such as Crittenden County, Arkansas; DeSoto County, Mississippi; and even nearby Germantown, new medical facilities will emerge within the next several years.
"There is still a lot of momentum and future growth in the Mid-South area," said Matt Weathersby, principal of Cushman and Wakefield Commercial Advisors, a commercial real estate services firm.
Additionally, Richard Kelley, vice president of corporate facilities management at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, revealed the healthcare corporation has 50 active construction and development projects in progress in the metropolitan area.
Memphis Medical District
The majority of medical development inside the Medical District continues to be facility expansions with additional renovations to existing facilities.
"There is a lot of on-campus renovation taking place in the Medical District," Weathersby said. "Those buildings are older and are in need of modernization."
Kelley projected that the Methodist University Hospital Tower expansion and modernization will be completed in the first quarter of 2019. Construction began in 2016 to a 450,000-square-foot tower with nine floors, which will consolidate all of the services at West Cancer Center, which have been housed in different locations. The Methodist Transplant Institute will be housed there also. After the tower is completed, the existing hospital will undergo a 65,000-square-foot renovation. Kelley said an older hospital building at the corner of Union Avenue and Bellevue, which will be empty after the expansion, will be demolished and become the hospital's main entrance.
Additionally, Le Bonheur Children's Hospital will undergo a $23 million, 37,280-square-foot operating room expansion and will renovate its sterile processing department inside the hospital.
The Memphis VA Medical Center will begin construction on a parking garage in the fall, which, according to Sheena House, chief of engineering service, will add 184 parking spaces for patients.
Upon completion of the renovations to the hospital's lobby and front entrance in February, the VA began the renovation of its existing corridors and walk-through areas.
House said the hospital will undergo more renovations to its clinical laboratory, physical therapy pool and spinal cord patient restrooms over the next two years.
"Most of our construction projects have been renovations because our buildings are older and it's time to modernize to make services more efficient," she said.
Construction and development continues at UTHSC with renovation of three of the campus's oldest buildings, including one that has been vacant for 20 years. In what is known on campus as the historical quadrangle, the $70 million renovation will create a new general administration building, new College of Nursing building and a building for basic sciences such as physiology.
According to Ken Brown, Ph.D., executive vice chancellor and COO of UTHSC, the design of an additional $47 million dental building is complete. The new building will connect to the existing College of Dentistry building and will contain additional faculty offices, classrooms and a new dental clinic for adults with special needs.
Additionally, Brown said, a $10 million gross anatomy lab is in the early stage of design and will be housed on the fourth floor of the university's general education building.
Recently, St. Jude announced the development of a $412 million, 625,000-square-foot advanced research center, which is one of the largest developments in the hospital's history, according to John Curran, director of design and construction for St. Jude. The center will contain six floors and will house new state-of-the-art laboratories focusing on immunology, neurobiology, cell and molecular biology, gene editing, metabolomics, microscopy, epigenetics, genomics, immunotherapy and RNA biology.
An older, existing building will be excavated this month to make room for the center, Curran said. Departments from that building have been moved into newly renovated buildings on the St. Jude campus or to other locations.
According to Cushman and Wakefield's Weathersby, the demand for medical facilities continues to be high in Germantown, where there is a significant healthcare presence, but with land availability scarce for new construction, developers will have to be creative.
"There is still much interest along the Wolf River corridor in Germantown, but the challenge is a scarcity of land," he said. "The area is well positioned with three Mid-South hospitals close to the area. Because the land is scarce, we have clients now looking into rehabbing office buildings."
Despite the challenge, construction will begin on a 120,000-square-foot expansion project for Campbell Clinic in June. The three-story building will be constructed adjacent to its current location on five acres. The new building, which will include outpatient orthopedic space, an expanded physical therapy area, imaging suites and an ambulatory surgery center with eight operating rooms, is a $30 million expansion, which according to the city of Germantown will add 185 new jobs to the area in three years. Construction is scheduled to be complete in the fall of next year.
Weathersby said the Campbell Clinic expansion will be the first new medical construction project along Wolf River Boulevard in two years.
Crittenden County, Arkansas
Baptist Memorial Health Care's recent development efforts have been targeted outside of Memphis.
The healthcare corporation began construction on a $43 million, 52,000-square-foot hospital last year. Brian Welton, administrator and CEO for Baptist Memorial Hospital - Crittenden, said the hospital will have 11 inpatient rooms, 10 emergency rooms, two operating rooms, one endoscopy suite and eight cancer infusion rooms. Additionally, the hospital will have diagnostic imaging, lab services and inpatient and outpatient surgery.
The new hospital is near Interstate 40, which, Welton said, is easier to access than the previous location of the county hospital, which closed in 2014.
"The community hasn't had a local hospital in three and a half years, and they have a need for basic healthcare services," Welton said. "Residents have had to drive to Memphis or Forrest City, and it has been disruptive to the community."
DeSoto County, Mississippi
Baptist is in the process of a $19 million, 20,000-square-foot expansion to its emergency room at its hospital in Southaven.
According to Phyllis Chambers, DNP, director of emergency services for Baptist Memorial Hospital - Desoto, the expansion is to meet the growing patient volume.
"We have seen a rapid increase in volume in the ER between 5 to 7 percent each month," Chambers said. "In December last year we saw the most ER visits ever, over 6,000 people. The new expansion will speed up wait times, and we will be able to see 7,000 more patients a year."
The ER will have a total of seven triage rooms and 55 patient rooms when the expansion is complete, which is expected to be in July. Baptist will begin renovation to 9,000 square feet of the existing ER after the expansion is complete. When finished, the entire ER will be 42,000 square feet.
Additionally, to meet the growing patient demand in DeSoto County, Methodist is planning to build a medical office building in Southaven, which will contain physician offices, according to Richard Kelley.
Weatherbsy sees future medical development expanding east toward Fayette County in Tennessee and continuing south in DeSoto County.
"Some areas to look out for future development are along the I-40 corridor and possibly in Olive Branch," he said. "There is still land available in those areas to develop."