Big KU Hospital expansion plan receives $3.5 million

The University of Kansas Hospital has received a $3.5 million donation towards its goal of building a $250 million expansion project on property it owns northwest of 39th Avenue and State Line Road.

The Burns & McDonnell Foundation pledged $2.5 million, and Greg Graves, chairman and CEO of the engineering firm, along with his wife Deanna donated another $1 million for what the hospital is calling its Cambridge North project.

The 92-bed tower is proposed for a section of a 14-acre site across 39th Avenue from the KU Hospital main campus. The hospital purchased the land in 2005 and has long planned on building an addition there to accommodate its growing demand for inpatient and surgical services.

“The hospital attracts more than a third of its patients from outside the Kansas City area, including patients from across the country,” Deanna Graves said in a statement. “As the demand for its services grow, the hospital needs to build more beds to serve the needs of its patients.”

The proposed building will accommodate neuroscience and surgical oncology services, which include many eye, nose and throat procedures. The Cambridge North facility would be home to 100 new physicians and provide 600 new patient care jobs, according hospital officials.

The announcement did not include a timetable for when the project could begin construction.

“The construction schedule will depend on philanthropy,” said Bob Page, president and chief executive officer of the hospital.

“With our growth in patient volume across the board, we would like to begin construction very soon. But, the changing economics of medicine mean we have to rely more on the philanthropy of our community than ever before.”

Graves is vice chairman of the KU Hospital board of directors.

“Deanna and I are thrilled to get things started,” he said in a statement, “but we will need many other community leaders and organizations to step up to make this happen.”

There has been a major construction boom underway in the KU Medical Center area in recent years.

KU Hospital has invested $186 million in new facilities and renovations since 2011. In addition, the $40 million 39Rainbow mixed-use project is nearing completion, and a $10 million apartment project was completed last year.

The hospital announcement also comes less than a week after the University of Kansas Medical Center received committee approval from the Kansas Legislature for bonding to help pay for a $75 million health education building it is planning for 39th and Rainbow Avenue.

The KU medical school is asking the state to contribute $15 million toward the project by issuing $1.4 million in bonds annually.

Officials project the new medical school classroom building could be ready for the 2017 school year if the necessary funding is obtained. It would be located on 39th Avenue about two blocks west of the proposed KU Hospital Cambridge North project.