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This month, the Critical Care Tower is ready to take its place alongside the north and south towers of Vanderbilt University Hospital.  The 11-story addition will house 12 new operating rooms and 102 new patient beds in the three intensive care units that will move into the space—medical, surgical and neurological.
A lot has changed since VUH originally opened in 1980, and the new tower has the space and technology to provide the highest quality care to Vanderbilt’s sickest patients.  The new tower is just one item on a long list of changes to a hospital that was designed with renovation in mind, including the addition of Lifeflight’s helipad, two complete renovations of the emergency department and the relocation of the Children’s Hospital.
To give you a glimpse of what makes this tower so great and answer your burning questions (like where exactly the entrance is), we offer the following Q&A.

When will the Critical Care Tower open?
Patients will move into the tower on Nov. 14. The operating rooms will open a few days later.  

How much space has been added?
The CCT is 329,000 total square feet, but not all of that space will be used immediately. Three of the tower’s 11 floors have been shelled for future growth.

How much did this cost?
About $169 million. Original construction of VUH in 1980 cost $65 million, but when adjusted for inflation, cost of the original hospital and the CCT are about the same.

Why was this tower necessary?
Quite simply, we need more space. In the nearly 30 years since VUH opened, a lot has changed in medicine and there just isn’t enough space to provide the care that critical patients require. The patient rooms are too small for the high-tech equipment used today, and support spaces do not accommodate all the necessary supplies. There are not enough operating rooms, and many of them are too small for high-tech surgeries. Not all rooms are private, and they do not have bathrooms or let family stay near their loved ones. There is limited space for staff to work and document, and vertical transportation abilities have not kept pace with growth.

Did the economic downturn affect the plans at all?
Plans for the CCT have not changed significantly since the economic downturn. The original plan called for an immediate renovation in VUH of surgical support areas and spaces vacated by units moving to the CCT. Those projects are still in the planning phase. Floors 7 and 10 of the CCT will be shelled for future growth. Floor 2 was originally planned for patient and family amenities, but it will be shelled for now.

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