Madison Hospital on track to open in February, 2012
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — After nearly a decade of dreaming and planning and pushing for the necessary state licenses, the $71 million Madison Hospital is rapidly nearing completion.
On Monday, construction crews were busy hanging exterior wall panels and attaching the signature green metal roof that adorns most Huntsville Hospital buildings.
Mary Lynne Wright, the new hospital’s president, said she is determined to open the doors to patients on Feb. 28, 2012, a Monday morning.
The five-story building at the corner of U.S. 72 and Balch Road should really start to look and feel like a hospital over the next few weeks.
On Aug. 8, the busy Madison Urgent Care center is scheduled to move from the bowels of the building to the hospital’s future emergency room.
It will operate out of that space, with extended hours, until the hospital opens.
Wright said she plans to begin hiring her management team in September. Nurses and other full-time employees — about 340 all told — will start coming aboard in November.
Filling those slots shouldn’t be a problem. Wright said she expects many of the 1,600 Huntsvile Hospital employees from the Madison area to seek a transfer to the new hospital.
A former vice president of surgical services at Huntsville Hospital, Wright is a longtime Madison resident herself.
Seeing the new hospital take shape “is near and dear to my heart,” she said during a Monday construction update. “Every time I drive by, I’m a little more overwhelmed by the magnitude of this project.”
In March 2008, Alabama’s Certificate of Need Review Board granted Huntsville Hospital the construction rights to build a 60-bed community hospital serving Madison, Monrovia, Harvest, Toney, Triana and eastern Limestone County.
Crestwood Medical Center was also vying for the project and secured its own hospital site on U.S. 72 West.
That land is now being turned into a Target store due to open in March.
Madison Hospital will start out with 20 beds for people recovering from surgery, 19 mother/baby beds, 17 general medicine beds and four intensive-care beds.
In addition, there will be four labor and delivery rooms, five operating rooms, two endoscopy suites and a 24-hour emergency department.
With so many young families in the Madison area, Wright said, the labor and delivery program should be especially popular.
She estimates the new hospital will handle about 1,000 births a year.
The hospital’s fifth floor is empty “shell space” that can be quickly expanded to add 20 more beds as patient volumes grow, Wright said.
Also, the building was designed with the idea that a second patient tower may be needed at some point.
“We believe strongly that this hospital is going to grow rapidly,” Wright said.
Early on, Madison Hospital won’t offer every service available at Huntsville Hospital.
Madison-area residents with gunshot wounds, stab wounds and significant injuries from wrecks will still generally go to Huntsville Hospital to be seen by a trauma surgeon. Women with high-risk pregnancies will still deliver downtown to be closer to the neonatal ICU.
“I want to offer every service known to a hospital,” Wright said, “but that’s not necessarily the best and most judicious thing to do.”
The hospital plans to move its Madison outpatient physical therapy and pre-surgical testing to leased space in the Southern Family Markets shopping center at U.S. 72 West and Wall-Triana Highway.
That will free up space in an existing physician office building for doctors that want to be close to the new hospital, Wright said.
A second office building planned for the Madison Medical Park has already been entirely pre-leased to physicians as well as a bank.