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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Construction begins on 448-bed, $900 million tower at Charlotte hospital

Construction began Wednesday on a 12-story, 448-bed hospital tower that will be the largest building on Atrium Health’s Carolinas Medical Center campus.

The 1.1 million square-foot building – its metal and glass facade would cover more than eight football fields – has been in the planning stages since 2018 and will cost more than $900 million to build, according to Atrium Health officials.

Construction on the new tower is expected to be completed by spring 2027. At present, there are 868 licensed acute care beds in operation on the main campus of Carolinas Medical Center, and it has state approval to add 191 net new acute care beds, which will be located in the new bed tower.

“This state-of-the-art medical facility will not only add to the Queen City skyline as the largest structure on our campus, but it will serve as a beacon of hope for so many patients and community members and provide the quaternary care needs of the future in order to accommodate the incredible growth of Charlotte and beyond,” said Ken Haynes, president of the Southeast Region for Advocate Health, of which Atrium Health is a part.

Atrium Health will build the tower in a spot adjacent to its current primary bed tower – the Rush S. Dickson Tower –  and where its former rehabilitation center and a parking deck once stood. The David L. Conlan Center at Atrium Health Carolinas Rehabilitation opened in January, replacing the previous rehabilitation location. The new tower will connect with both the Dickson Tower and Conlan Rehabilitation.

The Dickson Tower will continue housing patients. “It’s going to continue to take care of patients as it does today,” says Chief Medical Officer Dr. Daniel Handel.

The new tower will have more than just hospital beds. At full occupancy, the new facility is expected to offer:

  • 38 operating rooms;
  • 16 procedure rooms;
  • A pod-style emergency department with 62 exam rooms;
  • A new helipad; and 
  • An open core model for the nursing units on inpatient floors, designed to facilitate collaboration between workers and maximize visibility and access into patient rooms.

Carolinas Medical Center opened its doors in 1940 as Charlotte Memorial Hospital. It serves as the region’s only Level I trauma center.

Wake Forest School of Medicine and Atrium Health are also building a Charlotte medical school less than a mile from Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center that will begin accepting students in 2024. Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center started construction of a $450 million care tower in 2021, and it is expected to be completed in 2025.

In 2018, Atrium Health announced plans for more than $1 billion in capital expenditure investments. In recent months, the health care system has broken ground on Atrium Health Lake Norman hospital, in Cornelius, and opened the Palmetto Tower at Atrium Health Pineville, Atrium Health Union West hospital and an adjacent medical office building and the Atrium Health Mountain Island free-standing emergency department.

Charlotte-based Atrium Health is part of Advocate Health, the third-largest nonprofit health system in the United States, which was created from the combination with Advocate Aurora Health last year. Advocate Health operates 67 hospitals across six states and has almost 150,000 employees.

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