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The Birmingham News
November 18, 2009

Shelby Baptist tower to open

Shelby Baptist Medical Center unveils its $92 million expansion at a 2 p.m. ceremony today, marking the completion of the single largest capital project in Baptist Health System history.

The South Tower, under construction for two years, opens to patients Dec. 1. The four-story, 167,712 square-foot addition will house 101 patient rooms and allows the hospital to put all of its state-licensed 192 beds in private rooms.

As Shelby Baptist celebrates its 50th anniversary, the addition also completes the transformation of what was once a small-town hospital. Since 2005 the Alabaster hospital has opened a new emergency department, women's center and heart catheterization lab and expanded its operating rooms.

"It started as a 35-bed hospital in a field, and now look," said April Weaver, the hospital's director of business development. "The community members who have visited the South Tower have just been amazed at what has taken place here."

The expansion has a new patient drop-off and pick-up area, accessed by Seventh Avenue, off U.S. 31, which should make entrance to the hospital much less congested for all patients.

"Essentially more than half the hospital is in this new area," said David Wilson, president and chief executive office of Shelby Baptist.

The new patient rooms are large, in keeping with those in the new women's center, and have plenty of room for an overnight guest to stay with a hospitalized patient. The South Tower offers free wireless Internet service and has large lobbies and waiting areas on the three completed floors. The top floor has been shelled in for future growth but is not completed.

Shelby Baptist is doubling the size of its intensive care unit, housing a new, 16-bed medical intensive care unit in the addition. The current ICU will become a unit just for patients coming out of surgery.

The South Tower connects to a 370-vehicle parking garage, which was completed in the fall of 2007 just before construction of the tower began. A $15 million central energy plant also was built to support the expansion.

"We had to invest to meet the growing needs of a growing community," said Ross Mitchell, a vice president at Baptist Health System. The new part of the hospital houses an additional chapel, and Scripture is found on the walls throughout the addition, emphasizing Baptist's faith-based approach to health care.

When Shelby Baptist opens the South Tower next month, Baptist will then turn its attention to a $72 million renovation and expansion planned at Princeton Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham.


 

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