Area growth demands more health care
Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital plans to break ground on a $70 million six-story patient tower early next year, and a $15 million 100,000-square-foot professional building sometime this summer.
The patient tower is under design and is set to open in January 2016, said CEO Scott Barbe, and the exterior of the professional building should be completed by the end of the year for physicians to begin leasing.
"We look at a lot of things [before expanding]," Barbe said. "Population growth is a big factor. Anytime you have the type of growth we have seen [in the area], it is a good prediction for the future. It gives us confidence to make that kind of investment."
Christa Clifton, a member of the Katy Area Chamber of Commerce's Healthy Lifestyles committee, said the expansion will aid Katy's growing population by reducing the need for residents to drive into Houston's medical center for many procedures.
"Katy is growing by leaps and bounds," she said. "Memorial Hermann Katy is being proactive, and it shows their commitment to Katy and to patient care. The new patient tower will allow them to serve an even larger population. The professional building will provide beautiful offices to their physicians while putting them in close proximity to their patients admitted to the hospital."
The expansion is a bold move for the hospital as other healthcare entities appear in a stand still as they are unsure of the full impact of the Affordable Care Act, said Lance LaCour, president of the Katy Area Economic Development Council
"It is a phenomenal project for the Katy area," he said. "Memorial Hermann has been in the area a long time, and this project is a great investment."
Depending on how many square feet each physician desires, Barbe said, the professional building could house as many as 60 to 65 offices.
The patient tower will increase bed count from 142 to 200 and double the number of operating rooms, as well as expand the emergency center. Barbe said the hospital is in most need of the surgical space as well as labor and delivery rooms.
"On certain days, we get pretty congested in terms of the operating schedule," he said. "We get all [the surgeries] done, but the additional rooms will definitely help."
The patient tower also allows for three additional stories to be added when necessary. Both additions will be built on the hospital's existing 66-acre campus at 23900 I-10.
The hospital has plans to expand some of its outpatient services in the professional building, Barbe said, specifically sports medicine and rehabilitation and its imaging center, the latter of which currently needs more space.
"As a provider, this gives us more capacity to accommodate growth, which we hope translates into more convenience," Barbe said.
Job generation from the patient tower depends on how fast the hospital fills it, Barbe said, but rough estimates call for 150 new full-time jobs to be created by the tower's second year in service.
Memorial Hermann Hospital Katy's Chief of Staff Dr. Viswanath Kalapatapu said although the hospital rarely, if ever, reaches full capacity on a normal work day, it is important for the hospital to stay in front of competition and relevant in a community with a population growing at about six percent a year.
"Competition is good for a company, because it makes you want to make sure you are doing the right things," he said. "It will be great when we have more beds and we are able to provide opportunities for health care providers to serve the community, including physicians. It's just going to improve patient care."
Keeping up with growth
Population growth has played a significant role in Memorial Hermann Katy's own growth.
"I grew up in Katy and have watched the community continue to grow in the last 30 years; the hospital has to grow with it," Kalapatapu said.
In 2006, the hospital opened at I-10 and Grand Parkway, after moving from Pin Oak and I-10.
"The volume growth far exceeded our expectations," Barbe said.
In the Katy Area Economic Development Council's 2012 annual report, area population increased six percent from about 269,000 in 2011 to about 286,000, and U.S. Census data reports the area's median age is around 35.
Demographics help the hospital determine future demand for specific services and departments, Barbe said.
"One thing is you have a pretty young demographic, and that tends to drive volume for departments like [OB-GYN]," he said.