Knoxville — Covenant Health wants to expand its Fort Sanders hospital operation, boosting emergency and critical care and expanding parking, the caregiver announced Monday.
The project has a $115 million target budget for Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, 1901 Clinch Ave.
The Metropolitan Planning Commission and Knoxville City Council will have to approve expansion plans.
"This expansion will allow us to provide better service," said Covenant Health Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Mark Browne.
Covenant Health, which operates numerous hospitals in the metropolitan area, wants "as soon as possible" to expand emergency department rooms by about two-thirds -- to 45. Critical care and intermediate care beds also will be added.
The goal is to add the space and facilities in the next year to two years.
A motivation for the change was a shift in the medical market in East Tennessee.
For example, there's great demand for critical care units than there are beds "most of the time."
"We are continuing to experience an increase in demand for our emergency room services, particularly with Tennova announcing the dramatic decrease in services at Physicians Regional," Browne said.
The emergency department will move to the ground floor of the Center for Advanced Medicine at 1853 Clinch Ave., according to Covenant's announcement.
Intensive care and critical care will take up two floors to be built atop the Center for Advanced Medicine, according to Covenant.
To accommodate the changes, the plan envisions expanding a parking garage at Laurel and Highland avenues.
WBIR confirmed the expansion plan includes three buildings on the corner of 18th and Highland. These three buildings fall under NC-1 zoning, a neighborhood conservation district.
"For any demolition of existing property to occur, there has to be changing of the boundaries," said Deputy to the Mayor Bill Lyons. To expand the Highland parking garage to encompass this area, Covenant must get permission from the city.
Preservationists have clashed with Covenant expansion plans in the past in Fort Sanders.
According to a statement from CEO Jim VanderSteeg, “The board and management of Covenant Health feel strongly that we must keep our covenant and meet the rapidly increasing health care needs of the community through the expansion at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center.”
Covenant Health operates Parkwest Medical Center, LeConte Medical Center in Sevierville, Fort Loudoun Medical Center in Lenoir City and Claiborne Medical Center in Tazewell.
The Fort Sanders campus includes Thompson Cancer Survival Center and the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center.
It does not include East Tennessee Children's Hospital, also located in Fort Sanders.