SAN ANTONIO -- It s one of the largest construction projects in San Antonio s history. The Bexar County Hospital District is spending almost $900 million to expand University Hospital and its downtown clinic. The changes are well under way.

University Hospital in the heart of San Antonio s medical center isn t just getting a facelift. You might say it s getting a total body makeover.

UH is a well-used facility built in 1968 and expanded over the decades. $778 million of taxpayer money will fund a new million square foot hospital tower set to open in 2014, bringing the facility in line with the huge number of patients who funnel through there every year.

It s going to be a fabulous, stunning building, exclaimed Mark Webb, University Health System s Vice President of Facilities Development & Project Management. But that s not the story. The story is what s inside.

For instance, University s notoriously busy emergency department will double in size. The capacity for surgeries will also increase, from 17 operating rooms now to 24 ORs. All of the420 patient rooms will be private.

It s for patient satisfaction and patient care, Webb said. For patient privacy, infection control, and also serving the needs of patients and their families that come to visit them and be with them.

The downtown Robert B. Green Clinic will be getting $121 million worth of improvements, growing it into a 250,000 square foot clinical services building to assist in outpatient care. It will keep more people from having to travel all the way to the hospital on the northwest side.

Patients that today may have to come here for certain services will be able to do it at the downtown campus which is a little more convenient to get to, Webb explained.

The parking garage at Wurzbach and Medical is the first outwardly visible sign of this massive undertaking. A third of those parking spots will be open by the end of the year.

University Health System is trying to make this a green project, going for special certification by keeping construction materials out of the landfill, recycling water and using more natural light in the new hospital tower.
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