by Sarah Chaney
UNC Health Care is slated to open a hospital in Hillsborough in July, as part of an effort to reduce pressure on its Chapel Hill campus.
The construction of the hospital will cost UNC Health Care about $200 million in reserves and provide 400 new jobs.
The emergency department will open first, followed by outpatient surgery and inpatient services, which will come in stages. UNC Hospitals is transferring 68 inpatient beds, rather than purchasing new ones.
The hospital only has licenses for a certain number of beds, so moving some of the beds from the Chapel Hill location means it can turn some of its shared rooms into private rooms.
There has been significant progress to date, said Jennifer James, UNC Health Care communications director.
“The exterior is done,” she said. “Just the interior things, just the wiring and electrical stuff (is left).”
The end goal is to alleviate pressure from the Chapel Hill medical center, James said.
“We have a lot of patients that come to us from that area (Hillsborough), and we’re really clogged here at the medical center,” James said. “We want to reduce some of the strain on the Chapel Hill campus.”
Hannah Vuncannon, a UNC-Chapel Hill junior, said she has noticed intense patient clogging when volunteering at UNC Hospitals and thinks the Hillsborough opening will be a positive one.
“Because it is such a specialized hospital, people come from all over North Carolina,” she said. “It’s not that UNC is slack — it’s just that they have so many parts.”
Funding for the hospital comes from reserves, or money kept in the bank to pay for big expenses.
In July 2013, UNC Health Care established the first stage of its Hillsborough campus with the opening of a 60,000-square-foot medical office building. The building includes hospital services such as imaging, laboratory, pharmacy and medical and surgical oncology.
The site of the Hillsborough campus, Waterstone, is a 330-acre development just north of I-40 near Old 86, with more than half the land reserved for residential use, said Margaret Hauth, planning director for Hillsborough.
“Houses and townhomes are under construction — one or two of the houses are ready for sale,” Hauth said. “Apartments are ready for construction in the next couple of months.
“We’re hoping the remaining half will be filled with supporting commercial and office uses in that development.”
Within Waterstone, 134 single-family units and 128 multi-family units were approved for potential development, according to the Town of Hillsborough.
Two blocks north of Waterstone is a shopping center where UNC has a family care office. Duke opened the Duke Medical Plaza in Hillsborough on South Churton Street a couple years ago.
“We have seen a lot of medical investment in Hillsborough,” Hauth said. “I think it’s because we are close to both Duke and UNC systems, and they’re making investments in our community.”
With regards to future plans for UNC Hospitals, James said the health care company is focusing on a remodeling project. She said it’s planning to build a new surgical tower on the Chapel Hill campus that will include surgery and pre- and post-operating rooms for patients.