Patient demand drives $70 million expansion on Hospital Hill

A rendering shows Truman Medical Center's proposed medical office building, called University Health II.
A rendering shows Truman Medical Center's proposed medical office building, called University Health II.

Growing patient demand is driving Truman Medical Center's proposal to put another medical office building on Hospital Hill.

Truman Medical Center's main hospital is frequently at capacity, President and CEO Charlie Shields said, so the hospital is moving primary care services and its women's clinic north to a new $70 million, four-story glass building, called University Health II. The move will allow Truman to expand its neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, and add patient rooms to the main hospital.

Shields said academic medical centers in urban areas across the country are seeing rising need for beds. The hospital added an outpatient specialty and surgery care center, called University Health, in 2015.

"This is not 'build it and they will come,' " Shields said. "This is 'they're coming and we need to build it.' "

University Health II will sit on the south side of 22nd Street between Campbell and Charlotte streets. Crews are already demolishing the Felix building, which housed a behavioral health vocational program on one floor but was mostly vacant.

“I’m looking out my window as we speak, and it is coming down," Shields said.

The $70 million first phase, with 80,000 square feet, will house primary care offices, the women's clinic, a Walgreens pharmacy and a coffee shop serving Roasterie products. That building is expected to open late next fall.

The hospital also may add a 49,000-square-foot expansion. That would sit directly to the east of the first building on what's now a surface parking lot.

Across Charlotte Street to the west, the hospital plans to have a parking garage. Sky walks will connect the buildings and the garage.

“The idea is that you’ll be able to walk from the hospital to (University Health) I to (University Health) II all in covered space," Shields said.

He said the new building's glass exterior will make it aesthetically appealing.

"The design looks less like a medical office building and more like a performing arts center," Shields said.

The NICU expansion, a partnership with Children's Mercy Hospital, will add nine beds, Shields said. It's not clear how many patient rooms will be added in the main hospital by moving the women's clinic and primary care services.

Staffing the University Health II building will take about 70 physicians, Shields said.

“It’s hard to project at this point, but I think it’s pretty clear we’ll need additional physicians because we anticipate seeing more patients," Shields said.

With construction at Children's Mercy and on retail and residential projects in the area, Shields said, the blocks that make up the UMKC Health Sciences District have a positive "vibe."

"There's a lot of exciting things happening in this part of the city right now," Shields said.