The Austin area’s ever-growing population has spurred a construction race during the past year among the area’s three biggest hospital providers—Baylor Scott & White Health, Seton Healthcare Family and St. David’s HealthCare—resulting in new health care facilities and expansions.
With all signs pointing to continued population growth, expansion and competition in the local health care industry will likely continue over the next several years, said David Huffstutler, president and CEO of St. David’s HealthCare. His team is in the middle of a multiyear, $275 million capital investment plan to boost capacity and develop new medical programs.
“We’ve known that we have to continue to invest to create the capacity that we need to continue to serve more and more patients,” he said.
St. David’s HealthCare
St. David’s in October completed the conversion of the former Forest Park Medical Center Austin, which was built by a previous provider at 1201 W. Louis Henna Blvd., Austin, but never operated, and opened the facility as St. David’s Surgical Hospital.
The 146,381-square-foot surgical center was one of two major new hospitals that opened in the Austin area in the past 12 months along with the $310 million Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas, which opened May 21 and will serve as a teaching hospital for The University of Texas Dell Medical School.
Along with expansions at hospitals in Central Austin and Leander, St. David’s is adding capacity to its South Austin location, Huffstutler said.
Construction on the $58 million project to expand St. David’s South Austin Medical Center will begin in September, according to the hospital’s CEO, Todd Steward.
“The population growth in South Austin has been similar to what we experienced in North Austin, so we were starting to see some capacity constraints in a couple of key service lines, primarily the emergency department and medical-surgical beds,” he said.
The goal of the expansion is to increase the size of the emergency department by nearly 14,000 square feet and 16 beds. Two new floors in the South Tower will include a 34-bed medical-surgical unit and 26,000 square feet for future development. Just over 300 new parking spaces will also be added, Steward said.
One hundred new full-time employees will be hired to support the increased services over the next five years. Completion of the project is expected in early to mid-2019.
Seton Healthcare Family
For Seton Healthcare Family, which is operating the new Dell Seton Medical Center, the recent capital growth is also encouraging new approaches to health care service, said Greg Hartman, the provider’s chief of external and academic affairs.
Seton has put more than $100 million into new outpatient facilities with a focus on improving access to primary care, Hartman said.
“The difference now is that you’re still getting some hospital growth, just because of the incredible population growth, but that the transformation of health care is having everybody rethink the delivery system,” he said.
Among new clinics is the Seton Family of Doctors Plus Express Care, which opened in November in Westlake and combines primary and urgent care services. Additional clinics are expected to open this summer in Round Rock and Southwest Austin.
Baylor Scott & White Health
Since December, Dallas-based Baylor Scott & White Health has also undertaken significant expansion in Austin area.
The provider rebranded the former Lakeway Regional Medical Center, a 106-bed full-service hospital. The facility is now known as Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Lakeway.
Baylor Scott & White Health is also planning a new hospital in Oak Hill by early 2019. The 50-bed facility is slated for a two-phase build-out on an 11-acre parcel of land currently home to the Oak Hill Golf Range.
The provider has also opened or plans to open a series of new health care clinics, including two that opened in Central Austin in January and one in Westlake in May.
Baylor Scott & White Health will evaluate locations, facilities and services as it continues to grow its presence in Central Texas, said Jay Fox, the provider’s Austin and Round Rock-area president, in a statement.
“With the continued population and business growth in this area, we want to be accessible to where people live and work,” Fox said. “Our overarching goal is to provide quality and also conveniently located care when and where it’s needed.”