Cook Children’s to begin construction on new tower

Barely a year after opening more than 500,000 square feet of new facilities, Cook Children’s Medical Center is embarking on another expansion that will add a six-story tower at its Fort Worth complex.

The project on the south side of its Medical District campus will include a new emergency department, 12 operating rooms and a heart center. The upper two floors of the 314,000-square-foot tower will be left unfinished for further expansion, said Nancy Cychol, president of Cook Children’s.

The work will also entail renovating parts of three floors in the main medical center tower, which opened in 1989. Site work has begun on a small parcel that will house utilities, and the main site of the new tower has been roped off.

Cook Children’s will also build an urgent-care center at Rosedale Street and Sixth Avenue. The entire project will cost $349 million and take more than three years, Cychol said.

“It will go in phases. We’ll probably open a floor at a time,” she said.

In 2009, Cook Children’s announced a $250 million expansion that increased the size of its campus by about 40 percent. Most of those new facilities opened in mid-2012, and the last phase, an off-campus employee office tower, opened this year.

Cook Children’s is among the top 20 U.S. children’s hospitals by revenue, according to a November ranking by Becker’s Hospital Review.

In fiscal 2013, which ended Sept. 30, the medical center reported total revenue of $837 million, according to regulatory filings. That does not include other units of Cook Children’s Health Care System, which altogether reported $1.2 billion in revenue.

The hospital said its current emergency department, in the 1989 tower, was built to serve about half the 120,000 patients it now sees in a year, making it one of the nation’s busiest pediatric emergency departments. It will remain open while the new department is built, Cychol said.

The new tower will add 12 inpatient operating rooms, including rooms designed for neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery. It will also have a new MRI machine that will allow surgeons to image their progress during a surgery, she said.

The new heart center will include an operating room, an intensive care unit and other cardiac services “all on one floor,” Cychol said. She said those services are now in different locations.

The new tower will occupy a site now used for a prayer garden and a labyrinth. Those will be moved, hospital officials said.