Mayo Clinic is kicking off a $217 million, five-year "domino effect" of expansion and renovation projects on its Saint Marys Hospital campus.

The plan was announced this morning. The elaborate proposal includes adding three floors to the Generose Building, moving and upgrading the cardiac surgery facilities and expanding the Neonatal Intensive Care and Pediatric Intensive Care units.

"This a strategic plan that has been in evolution for the past five years. We looked at where the needs were most pressing," said Dr. Bob Cima, Mayo Clinic's medical director of hospital operations. "We decided that to do this in an incremental fashion with one little project here and there was not the most efficient way of doing this."

While it may be a while until construction cranes for this project appear, some work to build out empty "shell space" is expected to begin within a few months.

Much of this initiative is about modernizing the historic St. Marys campus and finding creative ways to "expand" within the landlocked space.

"This project not only demonstrates Mayo Clinic's commitment to our mission, but also our commitment to the future growth of Rochester," Mayo CEO Dr. John Noseworthy said in the announcement.

The most visually dramatic piece of the multiyear project is building three more floors on top of the five-story, 24-year-old Generose Building.

Adding three floors will add 150,000 square feet to the building. About half of that space is expected to house Mayo Clinic's consolidated Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Hospital, currently based in the nearby Mary Brigh building.

The use of the other half of the new floors has not been decided yet, though it may be used to expand the current Generose mental health care services.

Moving Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation into the Generose Building will be the first time a department outside of the behavioral and psychiatric areas has been based there. Cima said the Generose Hospital will not change, but the building is expected to become "multiuse" going forward.

"The reality of what we're looking at here with the Saint Marys campus is that we're somewhat surrounded," he said. "We have to make better use of the land we have, and that means going up."

More private rooms

Another part of the changes at Saint Marys will involve expanding the number of private patient rooms and reducing the number of semiprivate rooms.

The build-out of four now-empty "shell" floors — 7 to 10 — of the East Tower will allow for 78 beds to be moved from the Joseph Building. Those floors were added in 2016 as part of a previous $92.7 million upgrade.

The new modern private rooms will include their own showers, which eliminate the need for all communal showers shared by 143 beds on the campus.

"Private rooms are more effective and more appreciated by our patients, especially by our Destination Medical Center patients, who expect that level of treatment," said Cima.

The campus currently has 184 semiprivate rooms, 150 general care beds and 34 Intensive Care beds.

"At the very least, this plan will eliminate 76 semiprivate beds (56 general care and 20 ICU)," said Mayo Clinic spokeswoman Kelly Reller. "Because there is flexibility built into the plan, variation in Mayo Clinic surgical patient volumes will enable for the reduction of up to an additional 48 semiprivate general care beds."

Will reducing the number of semiprivate rooms affect the cost of patient care at Saint Marys?

"We aren't disclosing this information at this time, but will restate that this meets the project's goal of supporting a modernized, affordable and safe patient environment," stated Reller.

Cima said moving to more up-to-date private rooms will benefit patients by offering more safety and privacy, in particular making it easier to protect HIPAA-protected information.

"I think it's (private rooms are) an expectation of the patients, but also sort of an expectation of regulatory agencies. It really is a direction all hospitals are going in," said Cima.

Upgrading cardiovascular care

The Cardiovascular Diseases Intensive Care Unit and associated spaces will be "modernized" and expanded. Part of the Department of Cardiovascular Diseases space also will be updated and expanded during this five-year project.

Construction is slated to begin this year and will be completed in late 2018.

A related upgrade of the preoperative and postoperative space and the Coronary Intensive Care area will increase the department's capacity.

Mayo Clinic also plans to move Cardiac Surgery from the first floor to unused shell space on the third floor of the East Tower of Saint Marys campus.The build-out of the East Tower third floor will cover more than 36,000 square feet. It will include 11 operating rooms, larger than the current ones, plus two shelled operating rooms for future growth. This upgrade will have 13 preoperative and postoperative spaces.

"Cardiovascular is a main driver (for this five-year expansion and renovation plan). … This is a statement of the growth of Mayo's surgical practice," said Cima.

Upgrading neonatal and peds

The Neonatal and Pediatric Intensive Care Units on the Saint Marys campus also will be expanded and upgraded.

"Here's an area where the practice has been growing and the facility hasn't met the needs of the practice in terms of size and accommodations," he said. "This is an area of strategic importance for our practice and our patients. We're the only major pediatric center in southeastern Minnesota."

Neonatal ICU will grow from a 26-bed area to a 35-bed one. The new rooms will be private, eliminating the current 20 semiprivate rooms in the Neonatal ICU.

Similarly, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit will increase from 16 to 23 private beds.

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