On March 4, 2008, the University of Virginia Medical Center hosted a community briefing to inform the public about the changing needs of medicine and the new hospital facilities being built at UVA.

Edward Howell

, Vice President and CEO of the UVA Medical Center since 2002, described an existing hospital facility busting at the seams but eager to take on the challenges of 21st century medicine.

“We need facilities for two reasons.  Facilities to deal with the increasing number of patients who come to us for care and facilities that recognize and have the capacity to adapt to this new 21st century molecular age of medicine,” said Howell.

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Howell described four major building projects intended to meet these challenges

.  Three of the facilities will be completed during the next 3 ½ years (by 2010-11).  Several will transform the landscape in and around the “new hospital” which was opened for business in 1989 off Jefferson Park Avenue.

The four major hospital building projects are:

Ground breaking begins on the

Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center

on April 12, 2008.  Named in honor of former State Senator Emily Couric, this five story building across the street from the main hospital will replace the West parking garage which is closing on April 1st.  According to Howell, UVA has 41,000 cancer patient visits a year today, a number expected to double in the next few years.


Emily Couric

was diagnosed with cancer [she] went from a transfusion and diagnostic room here…to San Antonio [for further treatment].  She was probably the most articulate spokesperson I can think of for having 21st century medicine in Charlottesville under one roof, and this facility will allow us to do that,” said Howell.  Couric died in 2001 of pancreatic cancer at the age of 54.

While the Couric facility begins the transformation of the main hospital grounds starting next month, UVA’s Northridge campus will see a ground breaking this summer for a new 50-bed

Long Term Acute Care Hospital (LTACH)

.  LTACH will serve patients with profound illnesses and often multiple organ failures who require hospitalizations of over 25 days.

“These patients are in our hospital today,” said Howell.  LTACH, he said, will free up beds in the main hospital and allow all patients to receive improved care.  The facility is expected to add 200 employees to the medical center workforce.

The most visually dramatic of the new buildings is the

72-bed six-story tower

to be added to the face of the “new hospital.”  The addition will integrate with the three towers of the main hospital which opened in 1989.

Howell guided the audience through a virtual “fly by” of the main hospital campus.  From some angles, it appeared as if the techies responsible for the proliferating “Hoo Vision” screens at the University’s athletic facilities had affixed a large flat screen on the front of the mammoth white hospital building.

Luis Carrazana

, Senior Facility Planner in UVA Office of the Architect, said the design of the new buildings was about creating “a community for healing and a community for hope.”  Carrazana said lots of glass is being incorporated in the building designs.  “It’s not because of an architectural statement… it’s because of the
nature of what is happening in the building and the people.”  Each patient room in the new main hospital tower will have floor to ceiling glass facing Lee Street.  The Clinical Cancer Center also includes a lot of glass, terrace courtyards, and landscaping.  “We are trying to make a connection to the outdoors.  We are trying to bring light into the building…to create a healing environment,” said Carrazana.

The fourth new facility is the

Barry & Bill Battle Children’s Hospital

(near the intersection of JPA and West Main Street)  Howell described this as largely an outpatient facility.  Its construction will not begin until 2011 after the other projects are complete.  Whether it will require the demolition of the Towers building is a decision that will not be made until later in 2008.

Taking it all in were about a dozen citizens from surrounding neighborhoods who raised concerns about issues such as traffic, parking, and the phasing of construction.

Fifeville resident and former Charlottesville Mayor

Nancy O’Brien

expressed concern about traffic to and from the hospital for patients, employees, and construction vehicles.  “While its very nice to have the [new West Main Street] parking garage with its 1,000 spaces, it’s getting the people to and from the parking garage that the neighborhood is concerned about.  From a [patient] care standpoint, this looks very nice.  From a neighborhood standpoint…it’s a sort of scary thing to envision because there is going to be more traffic,” said O’Brien.

O’Brien encouraged UVA to increase its efforts to use satellite parking.  Thomas Harkins, the Medical Center’s Facilities Planning and Capital Development Administrator, said that over 2,000 employees already park remotely at Scott Stadium and University Hall and catch a bus to work.

Fry’s Spring resident John Santoski asked if the Medical center was taking into account the fact that the JPA railroad bridge, near his City neighborhood, would be taken out of service for replacement during the construction of these buildings.  Santoski suggested traffic would be forced through other City neighborhoods and into the middle of the construction projects as vehicles navigate towards the University.  Harkins said he was unfamiliar with that project, but pledged to get information from City officials.

Highlights of Audio

Brian Wheeler


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