MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – More people moving to Middle Tennessee is creating the need for more healthcare. The Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford hospital in Murfreesboro is expanding, but leaders said it’s something they always knew was coming.
“We have been serving this community since 1927 and back at our old facility we had 216 beds and when we made the decision to move to this location we knew that we had to build the facility in such a way that it could be expanded to accommodate the population,” said Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford President/CEO Gordon Ferguson. “The driving factor of this expansion is our commitment to providing higher-level acuity services. A couple of examples of them include the fact that we are working towards being designated a Level II trauma center.”
The $110 million projects will increase the hospital’s bed count to 416, and include the following enhancements:
- An addition of 16 Critical Care Unit beds on the second floor of the East Tower
- A build-out of 36 medical beds in shelled space on the eighth floor of the West Tower
- Development of a higher level neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) with six bassinets
- Reconfiguration of the second floor to support expanded operating rooms
- The addition of a new and accessible parking garage with approximately 1,100 spaces
According to Ferguson, the growing population of Middle Tennessee warrants additional services and capacity. They are in the early stages of recruiting additional specialists as the hospital works towards becoming a Level II Trauma Center. Leaders felt this was necessary given the hospital’s proximity to the interstate and its location between Nashville and Chattanooga. Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford also received approval earlier this year to initiate open-heart surgery.
“We have just been very fortunate that with the specialties we are providing here that we are able to take care of individuals not just from Rutherford County but also our surrounding counties where we’re seeing quite a few of our patients from the regional facilities that are part of our system,” Ferguson explained. “I think really when you look at our location you certainly see a large number of our patients coming from Murfreesboro, Rutherford county, but we are also seeing more patients coming into this facility coming from the outlying areas. I think that’s in part because some of the older population may not feel as comfortable driving up to Nashville for care.”
Ferguson said he wants their staff to work in an environment where they are comfortable, especially in light of the stress being placed on healthcare workers who were on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve got a lot of natural light coming in, we’ve got areas of the hospital where our nurses can go to just be quiet, and really the centerpiece of our hospital is a chapel that’s located just off the lobby. I think with our staff going through stressful times it’s important for us to have an environment that makes them feel there are areas where they know they can get away and have some respite,” said Ferguson.
During our interview, Friday, Ferguson was dressed in scrubs as he said leaders wanted to visit with staff members who were giving their all day in and day out.
“We made the decision to spend time out on the floors with our staff. I don’t normally dress this way but our staff, I will say, are tired,” Ferguson explained. “I think there are some that honestly are somewhat frustrated that about 96% of the COVID patients that we have here are unvaccinated. We are going to beat the drum to really promote the vaccination. But I’ll take my hat off to our staff. They are truly committed to providing care to all of our patients and work through some of the exhaustion that they are experiencing.”
Construction is expected to get started later this year and is anticipated to be completed by 2024.
Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford opened its New Salem Surgery Center last month with work on the Westlawn Surgery Center Currently underway.
Groundbreaking is scheduled to happen Wednesday next door to that property off Veterans Parkway for a neighborhood hospital, Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford at Westlawn.
Officials said it will be a first-of-its-kind facility for the state of Tennessee to complement the main hospital and will include the following:
- 32,000 square feet within a two-story building
- Eight private inpatient medical beds
- Eight ED treatment rooms
- CT and other imaging modalities
- Laboratory services
- A second story for outpatient medical services and medical office practice space
- Modern architecture
- Convenient parking
- Modern consumer-focused technology including telemedicine