Teaching hospital gets funding approval from Seton


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist CHRISTIAN GARCIA

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE


Posted on June 18, 2013 at 5:21 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 18 at 5:41 PM

AUSTIN -- The new teaching hospital to replace University Medical Center Brackenridge has gone from vision to voter approval and now to fiscal reality. Seton's parent company has authorized the construction which begins next year.

On a day that started with rain, it was nothing but a sunny outlook Tuesday for the new teaching hospital that will replace University Medical Center Brackenridge.

"This is a wonderful day," said Texas Senator, Kirk Watson (D) Austin.

Seton's parent company, Ascension Health, will invest $245 million. It's hoping another $50 million can be raised through philanthropic efforts, bringing the total price tag to $295 million.

"I think now the momentum is going to carry us to redevelop and transform this quadrant to be very different than what it is now," said Jesus Garza, the president and CEO of the Seton Healthcare Family.

Tuesday's rooftop news conference offered a new perspective on exactly where the new teaching hospital and Dell Medical School will be built.

"The new teaching hospital which will be right over there next to West of Red River on 15th Street," said Clarke Heidrick, a board member with Central Health. "The medical school structure will be in what I believe is parking lot 109."

Construction is expected to begin next year with the facility up and running by 2017. The new hospital will be about the same size as the current one, but with fewer in-patient and ER rooms that healthcare leaders say are unnecessary.

So what can be expected -- another M.D. Anderson in Houston or Cleveland Clinic?

"I think the vision is to build something new," said Heidrick. "I know there will be components of this vision that have been taken from other communities, but I think we're trying to do something new here."

"It will serve the medical school," said Garza. "It will serve the teaching hospital but also, more importantly, create a new economic platform in the medical field that we have not had here in Austin before."

Garza says the 15,000 jobs the project promises to create are not construction jobs. He says the jobs will come from the economic spinoffs that Seton, Central Health and the University of Texas create once the facilities are built.   

Seton also announced HKS, Inc. in Dallas will be the lead architect for the project.