The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

VUMC launches largest expansion project ever, to build new tower in 2026

The project includes constructing a new tower as well as expansion of existing facilities, adding over 500,000 square feet to the hospital
Hallie Williams
Vanderbilt University Medical Center, as photographed Oct 16 2020. (Hustler Multimedia/Hallie Williams)

Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) announced the addition of a new inpatient tower on July 25. This 500 million dollar project will add approximately 180 inpatient beds, as well as 10 operating rooms, various specialty clinics and a new lobby and administrative space, according to a recent press release. The project also includes the expansion of Central Garage and an additional 44,000 square feet of operating space to Medical Center East. 

The new tower will be constructed on an existing parking structure located between 21st Avenue South and Medical Center Drive and will be accessible through Vivien Thomas Way. Scheduled to begin construction in 2022, the tower is expected to take approximately four years to open, per the press release.

VUMC is currently the largest private employer in Middle Tennessee, with over 28,000 employees that manage over 2 million patients each year. The expansion arose as a result of a need for additional capacity according to VUMC president and chief executive officer Jeff Balser.

“Prior to 2020, our health system was already experiencing the need for additional capacity to care for critically ill adult patients,” Balser said in the VUMC press release. “This investment will position the Medical Center to better meet the needs of the increasingly diverse population we serve and strengthen our mission to improve the health of people throughout the region.”

The Vanderbilt University Hospital (VUH) serves as a major tertiary referral center in Middle Tennessee, admitting patients for intensive sub-specialty care. According to consult psychiatrist and VUH medical director Jonathan Smith, this is due to both the region’s growing population and the hospital’s expanding catchment area, or centrality to the area.  

Our inpatient units run at very high capacity and very high acuity at all times,” Smith said. “I think it is both the increased population within Nashville but also the increased size of our catchment area which has been driving up demand for acute care services.”

Smith emphasized that this growth placed additional demands on hospital employees and medical workers. 

“Our team works alongside other medical teams as psychiatric consultants for the inpatient medical units,” Smith said. “This means that as the hospital has gotten larger and fuller, the demands on our team have expanded; we have increased the number of patient encounters by nearly 100% over the last 5 years, and this level of growth is likely to continue.”

Deputy Chief Executive Officer of VUMC C. Wright Pinson attributed the need for the new VUH inpatient tower to the variety of specialized services the hospital offers. 

“Many of the specialty services we offer, such as trauma, burn and solid organ transplantation, are only available through Vanderbilt University Hospital. This expansion will create sufficient capacity for us to meet the needs of these patients and many others in the most effective and efficient manner,” Pinson said in the press release. 

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About the Contributors
Ekta Anand
Ekta Anand, Former Staff Writer
Ekta Anand ('25) is from Atlanta, Ga., and is majoring in neuroscience and communication of science and technology in the College of Arts and Science. When not writing for The Hustler, you can find her dancing with the Bhangradores, watching a good movie or grabbing her third cup of coffee for the day. She can be reached at [email protected].
Hallie Williams
Hallie Williams, Former Deputy Multimedia Director
Hallie Williams (‘24) is a student in Peabody College studying Human & Organizational Development. You can reach her at [email protected].
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