Inspira Health Network’s plans to build a new hospital in Mullica Hill took a big step forward this week when State Health Commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett approved the $326 million project. The facility, to be called Inspira Medical Center Mullica Hill, will replace the current medical center about 10 miles away in Woodbury.
Construction could begin later this year on the 100-acre property near the Route 55 and 322 interchange. It is across from the South Jersey Technology Park at Rowan University. If the state grants approvals, construction is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2017.
The new medical center will actually have fewer beds than Woodbury — 170 medical and surgical beds, down from 243 — which the hospital told the state is because of decreased need as more procedures are done on an outpatient basis than before. There will also be 20 intensive and critical care unit beds, 10 detox beds and 6 pediatric beds, according to the approval letter.
The hospital has said that after input from patients and staff, they decided to include only private rooms in the new facility. The technological upgrades will be everywhere, the company said, from the rooms to the computer workstations in the hallway between every single room. The maternity ward will have jacuzzis in every room to help manage labor pain.
The designs for the new facility allow for the addition of third wing if it needs to expand in the future, the application said. The contract to build the five-story, 465,000-square-foot building was awarded to Skanska USA of New York in September.
Bennett noted that at a public hearing in December, Woodbury Mayor Jessica Floyd expressed concern that the move would make it harder for city residents to get care and could have a negative economic impact on Woodbury.
The hospital plans to spend $7 million of its project costs improving the Woodbury facility so it can serve as a 24-hour satellite emergency department and provide some outpatient services. Inspira plans to keep outpatient behavioral health services at the facility and add 20 psychiatric beds and 10 beds for medical detoxification services.
The Woodbury hospital currently employs 1,600. Approximately 500 employees will remain at the facility and 1,400 will work at the new hospital, Inspira said.
The company will pay $50 million of the project costs itself, she wrote, and finance the rest through the Health Care Facilities Finance Authority.