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CoxHealth plans expansion in south Springfield

New nine-story tower will attach to existing Cox South Hospital.

April 03, 2013|by Jerry Jacob, KY3 News | jjacob@ky3.com

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- CoxHealth plans to build a second tower at Cox South Hospital.  The health care company announced the 310,000-square-foot expansion at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon.

The cost of the expansion will be $130 million.  CoxHealth President and CEO Steve Edwards says the expansion is moving forward right now because of the current financial climate.

"There is no better time than right now to go to the bond market for hospitals," Edwards said at a public announcement in the lobby of the hospital Wednesday afternoon.  "There may never be a better time in the course of my career."

Edwards said $200 million in bonds for the expansion sold in one hour Wednesday morning.

"We put our bonds on the market at 10 o'clock, and they sold by 11," he said.

The new tower will house a women's and children's hospital, a neuroscience hospital, and allow room for more expansion.  Once it is completed in late 2014 or early 2015, the increased space will mean that patients staying at Cox South will all have private rooms.

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Edited news release:

CoxHealth plans to construct a 310,000 square-foot addition to Cox Medical Center South, the health system’s flagship hospital in south Springfield.  This new patient tower will connect to Cox South’s existing tower and will house a women’s and children’s Hospital, a neuroscience hospital, and will include room for future expansion.

“We are planning . . . to meet the area’s health care needs for the next 20-30 years,” said Steve Edwards, CoxHealth president and CEO.  “Our main hospital tower was designed in 1983, and it has served us – and the people of southwest Missouri – quite well. But . . . we know that, to continue to provide the absolute best patient care and meet the needs of our growing and aging population, we must have facilities designed for the highest standards of care and efficiency.  This new patient tower places us securely at the forefront of health care in the Midwest.”

The new tower will feature all private patient rooms, and will allow CoxHealth to convert all of the existing rooms in Cox South to private rooms as well.  Should a medical disaster occur, these existing rooms can be converted back to semi-private rooms in mere hours, giving the health system unprecedented flexibility to meet patient demands.

“Patients want private rooms, and health care providers know private rooms provide a quiet, healing environment,” said Edwards.

The Women’s and Children’s Hospital will use three floors of the nine-floor addition and will include a new neonatal intensive care unit, pediatric intensive care unit, pediatric unit and post-partum unit, with easy access to CoxHealth’s existing labor and delivery area and women’s and children’s physician offices.

The new neuroscience hospital will also use three floors of space and will include inpatient care units, plus clinic space for Springfield Neurological and Spine Institute physicians and Ferrell-Duncan Clinic neurologists.

“Our neuroscience and women’s and children’s teams are an absolute strength of this organization.  We deliver more than 3,000 babies a year, and our neuroscience team has been rated number one in the nation for spinal fusion by CareChex.  We are proud of the care we provide, and we are happy that our professionals will soon be able to provide this outstanding care in the area’s best facility, bar none," said Edwards.

The project has a $130 million budget, financed in part by an April bond issuance.  While the health care industry faces uncertainty as it deals with health care reform and the question of Medicaid expansion, one certainty remains – more and more patients will need care, and mission-driven hospitals such as CoxHealth are trusted to provide it. 

Given the historically low interest rates in the bond market, investing in a new patient tower now means CoxHealth can provide that care at a significantly lower cost than if it waited to pursue the project.  The organization’s analysis shows, if current interest rates were to increase by only 1.5 percent, the cost of the bond offering would increase by $43 million.

“We have thought about building a new tower for a long time,” said Dr. John Duff, senior vice president and chief hospital officer.  “We know we need to grow to serve our community and, if we wait, it will be more costly for us to do so.” 

Money from this approximately $200 million bond issuance will also be used to fund projects and refinance debt associated with Cox Medical Center Branson.

Groundbreaking for the new tower at Cox South is scheduled for May, with an 18-24 month construction period.

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