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County, University Hospital focused on bringing top talent with $390M expansion

Proposal would add 6-story, 250-bed Women and Children's Tower

SAN ANTONIO – A proposed Women and Children's Tower could do more than add a new building and varnish to the University Hospital campus.

The Bexar County Commissioners Court voted Tuesday on an item to move forward a plan to build a six-story, 250-bed tower dedicated to women and children's health care. The $390 million project would also include a new Heart and Vascular Institute and an Advanced Endoscopy Center in the existing Sky Tower.

"It's going to take the whole community to another level," said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff. "There's not one like this in the whole city. It's going to be unique. It's going to be different."

The tower would connect to the Sky Tower, which opened in 2014, and would free up the existing pediatrics space for adult patients.

"Women's services here at University Hospital are really being performed in a 1968 building," said UHS spokeswoman Leni Kirkman. "Medicine has home a long way over the past 50 years, and it's time for us to make sure that we can advance to be able to provide the highest level of care to this community and region."

The county and UHS hope to attract and retain some top doctors with the project.

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"It's going to enrich the talent base of San Antonio as well as providing that state of the art care for women and children," Wolff said.

Kirkman said the pediatric specialists coming out of programs and fellowships across the country can choose to practice wherever they want.

"And they want to choose an environment that's focused on doing the right things for children, supporting the newest and latest advances in technology and treatments and looking at research projects," she said.

UHS said the Heart and Vascular Institute and the Advanced Endoscopy Center could open in 2020, and the Women and Children's Tower in 2022, if the Bexar County Commissioners approve the project.

The hospital said the project would be funded through capital reserves, shifting budget priorities and the sale of certificates of obligation -- a type of public debt financing.

Both Kirkman and Wolff said the proposal would not result in any property tax increases.

The project is still in its infancy. Tuesday's vote only authorized public notices about a Sep. 12 vote to issue up to $308 million in certificates of obligation. In the meantime, the public will have its chance to weigh in.

"We really hope people will see that this will be a facility that will care for our children, and our children's children for decades to come," Kirkman said.

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