WakeMed is seeking permission from the state to build a new hospital in Garner and a new 150-bed mental health hospital somewhere in eastern Wake County.
The WakeMed Garner Hospital would have 45 acute care beds, two operating rooms and a full-service emergency department with 24 beds. It would be at the corner of White Oak Road and Timber Drive.
WakeMed has not chosen a site for the mental health hospital, which would have separate units for adolescents, young adults, adults and people older than 65. The hospital would also offer outpatient services.
WakeMed hopes to break ground on both projects by fall 2024 and open sometime in 2027.
But first, both proposals require a “certificate of need” from the state, through a process that aims to prevent hospitals from building unnecessary facilities that drive up health care costs or hurt quality. State regulators have decided that because of population growth Wake County can support 45 more acute care hospital beds and two additional operating rooms.
Competition from UNC Health
WakeMed will have competition from UNC Health. UNC has proposed adding 36 beds to UNC Rex hospital in Raleigh and 9 to Rex hospital in Holly Springs, which opened last fall, according to spokesman Alan Wolf.
Cost may be a key factor in the state’s decision. WakeMed says its Garner hospital would cost about $214 million, including the land.
But UNC says it would use existing space, at both Rex in Raleigh and Holly Springs, and can provide 45 acute care beds and two operating rooms for $23.2 million.
“UNC Health Rex is proposing a much more cost-effective plan to add capacity at our existing hospitals and meet increasing demand across Wake County,” Wolf said in an email. “We believe our proposal will better serve future generations of patients across our fast-growing region.”
Demand for mental health services grows
WakeMed already has state approval to build a 50-bed mental health hospital but needs a total of 150, said Donald Gintzig, president and CEO of WakeMed Health & Hospitals. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of patients seeking mental health treatment at WakeMed emergency rooms has increased 25%, amounting to 40,000 additional visits a year, Gintzig said.
“As the pandemic took its toll on our community’s families, we quickly realized that a 50-bed mental health hospital is not enough,” he said in a written statement. “While the new facility will be a WakeMed entity, it will be part of our entire community’s concerted effort to provide more abundant, specialized inpatient and outpatient mental health and substance use care and services to the residents of our region.”
The mental health hospital, which doesn’t yet have a name, would cost $142 million and employ as many as 260 people.
WakeMed already operates a 12-bed emergency department in Garner as part of what it calls the WakeMed Garner Healthplex, off U.S. 70. If the new hospital is approved, the healthplex and its outpatient services would move to the new site and its emergency department would be folded into the new facility.
Garner would be WakeMed’s fourth acute care hospital, after Cary, North Raleigh and its main campus on New Bern Avenue in Raleigh.
This is a developing story and will be updated
This story was originally published August 15, 2022 12:44 PM.
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