by Robert Burke
Sometimes, hospitals and other health-care-related buildings just wear out. Such as the aging hospitals in Harrisonburg and Charlottesville, which were both replaced by massive new facilities on bigger suburban campuses in the past few years. Other times the demand for new facilities is driven by a growing population or changes in how health care is delivered.
More providers are moving to outpatient centers scattered around their service areas instead of at a single location. Bon Secours, for example, last year opened a freestanding emergency room, a diagnostic i
imaging, lab and a breast center at the Watkins Centre mixed-use project in Chesterfield County, less than five miles from the health system’s St. Francis Medical Center.
There’s also the $10 million StoneSpring Emergency Center that Tennessee-based HCA is building on a 50-acre campus in Loudoun County. That facility broke ground in October and is set to open late next year, It will be followed by the 164-bed StoneSpring Medical Center, which will open in late 2015 on the same site.
Whatever the reason, the private sector leads the way in construction of new facilities in Virginia, from clinics and hospitals to medical offices. According to research by Reed Construction Data, in the past decade the private sector has built 67 new clinics or hospitals, while the public sector — local, state and federal providers — have done 25 projects. The same trend holds true for additions and alterations to existing medical facilities — most of the investment comes from private-sector sources.
Laurens Sartoris, president of the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, notes that there have been a number of replacement projects lately. “You have truly worn-out, dysfunctional old facilities that were probably well-located when they were built, but by the standards of the present” they were inadequate,” he says.
Sartoris cites the new Martha Jefferson Hospital that opened last year just outside Charlottesville in Albemarle County and the 2010 opening of a new Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Rockingham County, replacing the old hospital in Harrisonburg. “It’s just keeping up with the times,” he says.
The bigger projects under way right now include the $168 million, 640,000-square-foot Children’s Pavilion, which is going up next to the VCU Medical Center in Richmond (See page 51). It’s supposed to open in 2015. Skanska USA Building Inc. is handling construction for the project.
In Fairfax County, Inova Health Systems has broken ground on a 12-story, $400 million project that will house both the Inova Women’s Hospital and the Inova Children’s Hospital. That 665,000-square-foot building is scheduled to open in 2016. Clark Construction Group, based in Bethesda, Md., has a $215 million contract for that facility.
In Williamsburg, Riverside Health System broke ground last year on the new Riverside Doctors’ Hospital, which is supposed to open in early 2013. It’s a two-story, 100,000-square-foot project that is licensed for 40 private rooms, 33 medical/surgical rooms and seven intensive-care rooms.
Riverside is also making plans on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. In September it revealed details for a proposed new Shore Memorial Hospital in Accomack County. The 160,000-square-foot building would have 78 inpatient beds, about half of the number of beds in the existing Shore Memorial Hospital in Northampton County, along with outpatient services and cancer care.
The amount of health-care-related construction, though, hasn’t been enough to reverse the trends in Virginia’s construction employment, according to data from Associated General Contractors of America. In August, Virginia’s construction jobs totaled 175,000, down from a 10-year peak of 252,000 in March 2006.
The current numbers are equal to employment in 1996. In the year ending in August Virginia lost 2,600 construction jobs, which puts the state at 29th place out of 50 states plus Washington, D.C., in the amount of construction-job growth, says Ken Simonson, chief economist for AGC. Meanwhile, the U.S. as a whole added 17,000 construction jobs during that same time period.
Simonson says that nationwide, hospital construction is actually lagging behind. “Actually, hospital construction has been nearly flat for the past 2½ years,” he says, compared to a 9 percent increase in total construction spending between July 2011 and July 2012.
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