Chairman of the St. Francis Hospital Board of Trustees Tom Buck told those gathered at Tuesday's ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Heart Hospital that "a new era in heart care is beginning."
St. Francis will deliver the best possible heart care in the region, Buck said. It will begin that endeavor when the Heart Hospital opens for patients May 28.
The Heart Hospital on Manchester Expressway is part of an expansion project that includes a medical office building and a women's hospital featuring a maternity ward. There are two new buildings involved: one is four stories and the other five. The main St. Francis building is also undergoing a major renovation that includes adding operating rooms and expanding the emergency room. Work began in 2011 with a construction cost of $110 million.
All of the work at the hospital, which opened in 1950, is to be finished in the fall. The Heart Hospital is the only part of the new expansion that will open next week.
St. Francis President and CEO Robert Granger said the cost of the Heart Hospital is about 25 percent of the entire project.
He called it a "world-class" facility, one that is patient friendly.
The Heart Hospital adds 96,000 square feet to St. Francis.
The addition includes four cardiac catheterization labs, 30 prep and recovery bays and a 16-bed intensive-care unit on the first floor. On the concourse, there will be a 43-bed private room unit and eight observation beds.
Cardiologists will now begin moving into the heart hospital's office space.
By October, the Chokar Clinic, Chattahoochee Valley Cardiology, St. Francis Vascular Surgery, Columbus Cardiology and St. Francis Electrophysiologists will be located in the Heart Hospital or on the St. Francis campus.
Dr. Sebastian Hubbuch of Chattahoochee Valley Cardiology said the new facility is going to make things "more efficient" and that will be better for doctors and patients.
He also said he is glad to see the Heart Hospital has rooms in which families of patients will be able to stay comfortably with their loved ones.
Dr. Alonzo Jones of Columbus Cardiology Associates called the new facility a "significant move" in heart care.
St. Anne Catholic Church Priest Gerry Schreck was on hand to bless the new building.
Granger said when the project was started people knew it was going to be a large endeavor.
"It takes an entire community to make something like this happen," Granger said.
When planning the project, administrators met with physicians and staff, he said. Rather than have administrators telling doctors what they wanted to do, the administrators listened to what doctors said was needed.
With the state-of-the-art equipment and excellent physicians, Granger said, the Heart Hospital is "taking heart care to another level."
"St. Francis will be second to none," he added.