CHARLESTON, SC - The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) has opened the doors of Ashley River Tower, its new state-of-the-art hospital designed to treat patients with cardiovascular and digestive disease problems. Ashley River Tower marks the first step in the hospital's multi-phase expansion plan, which will ultimately replace the facility that for 50 years has served as the teaching hospital for MUSC.
This new 641,000-square-foot facility has 156 beds, including 32 ICU beds, as well as nine operating rooms, catheterization laboratories, interventional radiology laboratories, state-of-the-art endoscopy suites, imaging suites, outpatient clinic space, and a dedicated around-the-clock chest pain center for rapid diagnosis and treatment. Specially sized equipment, treatment space, and ICU beds accommodate bariatric surgery patients. The facility also includes a division specializing in surgery for gastrointestinal cancers.
Capacity has been an issue for the last decade, with the hospital often unable to accommodate all referrals from hospitals and physicians throughout the state and region.
"MUSC Ashley River Tower was developed for several reasons, first and foremost to accommodate the needs of an aging and growing population in South Carolina," said Dr. Greenberg. "This cutting-edge hospital represents the future of medical care and will lead the way in providing the latest technology in a healing environment." The Ashley River Tower addresses two primary areas of need: The increase in cardiovascular and digestive diseases. Patients have access to all diagnostic and treatment services, including inpatient and outpatient clinical services, in one convenient location.
"The design of this building represents the collaboration and expertise of hundreds of physicians, nurses and caregivers, hospital leadership, and patients," said Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., MUSC Executive Medical Director. "Patient safety and quality of care were at the center of every conversation, and together, we've created an environment which applies a new understanding of what constitutes superior health care."
Comprised of a four-story diagnostic and treatment building, a seven-story patient hospitality tower and a garden atrium that connects the two buildings, Ashley River Tower is designed around the patient experience, delivering the highest quality care in a comforting environment. Patients enjoy amenities to reduce the stress and anxiety of hospitalization, including spacious, private rooms with family day space, wireless Internet access, family lounges on each floor, and valet and concierge services, among other features.
The exterior design is primarily made up of glass to afford patients access to natural light, which is proven to positively impact the healing process. The facility's innovative architecture is capped off by a large glass curtain wall reflecting the rich nautical history of Charleston.
The facility also is equipped with new technology to greatly enhance patient safety and reduce infection and promote a "green" environment. A new electronic medical records system captures all patient-related information in one central location, making records more easily accessible to referring physicians and caregivers as well as reducing the use of paper. A central sterile corridor allows doctors and nurses to quickly cross between operating rooms during an emergency. Recyclable and paper-free materials are used throughout the building.
Each operating suite in the facility has multiple flat screen monitors to allow surgeons to view surgical images more easily. Anything that is on the patient's electronic record, whether it be an image from a catheterization, lab results, or an echocardiogram, can instantaneously be brought up on a monitor in the operating room with the touch of a button. The new MUSC hospital is one of the first in the nation to have this capability in the operating room.
Flexibility of space was a key element in the design of this new facility, recognizing future needs and technology will change over the years. In the operating room, most equipment is suspended from booms in the ceiling rather than taking up space on the floor, making it easier for equipment to be replaced. All patient rooms can easily be converted to additional ICU beds, if the need arises.
MUSC's new facility also has a number of technical features to improve overall patient safety. Ashley River Tower is the first health care facility in the U.S. built under new hurricane and seismic construction codes. A mock-up of the hospital's exterior was tested under rigorous structural conditions to certify the facility's design could withstand a hurricane and seismic event.
Total cost of the hospital project is approximately $275 million. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development insured $401 million in bonds to finance the hospital project. This figure insures both bonds for the new construction project and re-funding of existing debts. The consolidation of these debts is a requirement for the new funding.