By JACKIE STARK
Journal Staff Writer
MARQUETTE - Plans to build a new, $290 million 265-bed regional medical center within the city of Marquette were announced this morning by Marquette General Hospital and Duke LifePoint Healthcare.
With hopes to build on 30 to 45 acres, MGH CEO Gary Muller said this morning the hospital and Duke LifePoint would hire a professional site consultant and planner to work with the city of Marquette to find the best site.
Muller said the hospital is planning to work with city staff to decide the best use of the current hospital, located along College Avenue.
"The city has a very good planning process going on now," Muller said. "We intend to dovetail into that, work very closely with the city, making Marquette General's present campus a general asset."
Marquette City Manager Bill Vajda said the hospital was " an important part" of the community.
"They've been perhaps one of our oldest businesses," Vajda said this morning. "They've been here for 130 years. They're the U.P.'s largest employer and we have a very cordial relationship. We look forward to working with them in the future."
Muller said the hospital wants to continue working with other organizations within the city limits.
"The partnerships we have with things like the Upper Peninsula Medical Center building, the Beacon House, Northern Michigan University, are very important to LifePoint and to Marquette General and we intend to maintain those in a very positive way," Muller said.
The new hospital will take roughly three years to complete, from the initial design stages through completion of construction, according to a statement released by the hospital this morning.
Plans for a 168,000-square-foot physician office building adjoining the roughly 600,000-square-foot structure are also in the works.
The current campus is 800,000 square feet.
The new facility would have a smaller bed count than the current hospital, at 307, but Muller said the greater capacity simply isn't needed.
"Our current census is right at 155 and we're licensed for 307," Muller said, adding that the new hospital will also allow all patient rooms to be private, something that would be "very hard" to do in a renovation of the current facility.
Muller said after seeing the cost associated with renovating the current hospital - at $230 million - and the cost of constructing a new facility - at $290 million - the hospital chose to go with the latter option because it would allow them to build a hospital "for the future."
Muller also said building a new facility will not disrupt patient care in any way, while a renovation could disrupt patient care for years.
The new facility would look to enhance some of the medical services currently offered by the hospital, including MGH's sports medicine program and possibly the addition of a helicopter service for more rapid patient transport.
The new building would also allow the hospital to provide modern nursing unit stations, some of which Muller said have been untouched in the hospital for 50 years.
Muller said the facility would be built keeping patient access in mind, so transportation of patients within the hospital would be more efficient and patient "way-finding" would be made simpler.
Muller also said the hospital was "committed" to hiring locally during construction and was working closely with local labor unions.
"This is probably the biggest economic development boost in the community for many years and it will boost the economy for many years to come," Muller said.
Muller said the hospital's board was informed of the plan Monday. Medical staff were told Wednesday night and the rest of the hospital's staff will be informed at one of two meetings today.
Additional details of the new facility will be released in the coming months as plans are finalized.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.