Nearly two years after winning regulatory approval for Wake County's fifth hospital, WakeMed is moving ahead with plans to expand its medical campus in North Raleigh.
The Raleigh-based health system postponed construction of WakeMed North Hospital when the economy cooled and officials turned their attention to other expansion projects, including a $99 million patient tower and children's hospital at its main campus.
WakeMed will announce today that it expects to break ground on the 61-bed hospital focused on women's services this fall and open it in late 2013. The site is already home to a healthplex that includes an emergency department, day surgery center, medical offices and more. The new hospital will provide additional services to northern Wake County's growing population.
"We shuffled several projects last year, but the economy is coming around, we think," said WakeMed CEO Bill Atkinson. "The timing is very good" because the weaker construction market has reduced costs for materials and labor.
The $61.7 million addition will add about 90,000 square feet to the WakeMed North Healthplex, which opened in 2002. While the hospital initially will focus on baby deliveries and other medical care for women, WakeMed will consider adding a broader range of services in the future.
Hospital expansions have helped bolster the Triangle's economy during the recession. The UNC Health Care System, Duke University Health System and WakeMed continue to build new facilities across the region, creating construction work and then more health jobs.
WakeMed recently began construction of a medical campus in Raleigh's Brier Creek area, and is in negotiations with Garner officials to start a similar facility on U.S. 70.
WakeMed and rival Rex Healthcare also are expected to file plans this month with state regulators seeking permission for additional expansions in Raleigh, Cary and Holly Springs. Regulators say that Wake County will need 100 new hospital beds to keep up with increasing demand, setting off a scramble among providers eager to expand.