Baptist to reorient campus with new Wolfson critical care tower

Baptist to reorient campus with new Wolfson critical care tower
Rendering of the new Wolfson Neonatal Tower as seen from I-95. A glass skybridge will connect the children’s hospital to its Southbank parking garage.

Southbank’s concrete jungle of parking lots and high-rise buildings will get a touch of green space this spring when Baptist Health begins construction on a new $187 million Critical Care Tower at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, which will include a spacious park-like entrance to its medical campus.

The new seven-story building will include a five-floor critical care tower comprised of a high-level 75-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Center as well as a 26-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. 

Situated where Wolfson’s P2 parking garage once stood on Palm Avenue, the new building will serve as the front entrance to both Wolfson Children’s Hospital and Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville.

“This new building will be our new ‘front door,’ essentially reorienting our entire campus. Our desire is to create a more welcoming entrance with increased accessibility to our campus,” said Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville Hospital President Michael Mayo, a San Marco resident, noting the plan will create wayfinding and ease transition from the parking structure to all Baptist’s downtown campus facilities. “Adding green space is always desirable because it softens the architecture of the buildings and will bring a more peaceful environment to our patients and visitors.”

The new building is designed to make it easy for patients and visitors to find their way anywhere in the medical center, as well as to increase visibility and accessibility to the medical complex from I-95. Similar to the overhead walkway linking Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center across San Marco Boulevard with the Baptist Outpatient Center, a skybridge will span Palm Avenue connecting the new building with the medical center’s multilevel parking garage.

The new NICU, located in the tower, will include three separate units, replacing the current 56-bed Level II and Level III Newborn ICU’s at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. The NICU will provide a 25-percent increase in beds, while the new PICU will increase its number of beds by 30 percent, bringing the children’s hospital total beds to 272.

“Wolfson Children’s Hospital is receiving more and more critically ill infants and children from cities well outside of Jacksonville. It is our responsibility to ensure that our young patients are met with world-class care in the most advanced facilities,” said Wolfson Children’s Hospital President Michael Aubin, a San Marco resident. Aubin also noted that Wolfson provides the region’s only Neonatal Surgical Center.

“Wolfson Hospital is the only full-service tertiary children’s hospital in North Florida and South Georgia. The awareness of a utilization by families from throughout the greater region – well outside of the Jacksonville area – has been growing yearly, and we anticipate this will continue to occur in the future,” he said, adding the hospital has several programs that it offers in collaboration with Nemour’s Specialty Care, the City of Jacksonville, and the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville. Those programs include Florida’s largest children’s hematology/oncology program, which includes a comprehensive neuro-
oncology program in partnership with the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute; neurosurgery and neurology, as well as its vascular malformation, endocrinology and diabetes programs.

Wolfson is also a destination site for selected services for children from Great Britain, Canada, Norway and China, Aubin said.

The new 220,000-square-foot tower will include one “shell” floor so the hospital can expand in the future, said Keith Tickell, Baptist Health vice president of Strategic Assets/Real Estate. The state-of-the-art building will offer doctors the latest in technology and has been designed to integrate with Baptist Jacksonville’s high-risk obstetrics and neonatal delivery center. It will feature private patient/family NICU suites to accommodate two parents with showers, bathrooms, separate parent wardrobes, entertainment and educational systems that access Baptist’s learning library of information on child care, as well as a unique room on each floor for the joint care of mothers who require a post-delivery stay.

Large windows will fill each patient room with natural light, which is meant to help the healing process of postpartum mothers, infants and children.

“The new Wolfson Children’s Critical Care Tower will be an incredibly beautiful facility, inside and out,” Aubin said. “What matters most is the life-saving care and treatment that will occur within its walls, thanks to our top-ranked team members and medical facility.”

Wolfson Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jerry Bridgham, who has been on the hospital staff since 1990, recalled when Wolfson Children’s Hospital was just a two-story wing on a hospital building that doesn’t exist anymore. 

“We built the current building in 1993, and then the Weaver Tower in 2012,” Bridgham said. “Now we are about to start on a neonatal tower. Wolfson’s has just been expanding and expanding, and it’s going to be a great thing to see for the kids in Jacksonville. 

“There really is a need now for this new building,” Bridgham continued. “We currently have 56 neonatal beds available to us and in the new building there will be 75 beds. Even at this period of time, we have days when we have over 60 to 64 patients in the NICU. We really need those beds as soon as we can get them.

“Obviously, our goal is to keep children out of the hospital, but we can’t always do that, so we’re glad to provide them with our services when they need them,” he said.

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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