Topping out ceremony signals milestone of new hospital

Photo of beam signing
Leaders signed the ceremonial beam for the UT Health San Antonio Multispecialty and Research Hospital on Oct. 17, 2022. Left to right are Robert Hromas, MD, dean of the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine; John M. Zerwas, MD, executive vice chancellor for health affairs, UT System; Jeff Flowers, chief executive officer, UT Health San Antonio Multispecialty and Research Hospital; Ruben Mesa, MD, executive director of the Mays Cancer Center at UT Health San Antonio; UT System Regent James C. "Rad" Weaver; William L. Henrich, MD, president, UT Health San Antonio; Robert Quinn, MD, chairman, Department of Orthopaedics; W. Brian Reeves, MD, chairman, Department of Medicine; Robert Leverence, MD, vice dean for clinical affairs and executive director of UT Health Physicians; Andrea Marks, MBA, CPA, senior executive vice president and chief operating officer, UT Health San Antonio; and Michael Vaughn, president, Vaughn Construction.

Written by Norma Rabago and Will Sansom

William L. Henrich, MD, MACP, president of UT Health San Antonio, joined by other university leaders, community supporters and more than 400 construction workers from Vaughn Construction, held a topping out and beam signing ceremony Oct. 17 for the new UT Health San Antonio Multispecialty and Research Hospital.

Henrich thanked the project’s many supporters “for allowing this dream to become a reality.” 

“When the history of our institution is written, this new state-of-the-art center for healing and discovery will be a prominent chapter in the story,” he said. 

A little fall of rain didn’t stop the celebration, marking the completion of the facility’s highest point. The eight-story, 144-bed hospital, located at Ewing Halsell Drive and Wurzbach Road, is scheduled to open in 2024 and will offer specialty care in cancer, orthopaedics, urology, and thoracic and bariatric surgery. 

Merging community care and groundbreaking research, the $430 million hospital will provide services to the community not currently available in this region. 

“This hospital will bring innovative therapies to San Antonio to meet the significant health care challenges we face here — higher rates of cancer, diabetes and dementia,” said Robert A. Hromas, MD, FACP, dean of the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs. 

It will also be home to more than 100 medical residents and fellows and will add more than 800 health care jobs to the city. 

A skybridge will connect the hospital to the Mays Cancer Center, the National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Center at UT Health San Antonio. In November 2019, the Board of Regents approved $80 million in Permanent University Fund Bond Proceeds for the project. The hospital is included in the UT System’s Capital Improvement Program. Construction began in May 2021 on land donated by the San Antonio Medical Foundation. 

The beam ceremony is rooted in ancient Scandinavian history, in which a pine tree was placed on the top floor of new construction. Today, the ceremony marked reaching the highest point of the nearly half-a-billion-dollar project. The final beam, signed by attendees, will be placed at the heart of the structure, said Jeffrey L. Flowers, MBA, chief executive officer of the new hospital. 

Michael Vaughn, chief operating officer for Vaughn Construction, the general contractor for the project, said it’s also a moment of reflection on the larger purpose of the facility.  

“Many of us working on this project know we will have family and friends treated here in the future, and we can’t think of a more meaningful project to be part of,” he said.

Integral to the design of the hospital is the healing environment with great attention to the patient and family experience. Walking trails that connect around the hospital will help patients and care supporters with stress release. Relaxation and respite areas will include amenities such as shower facilities where family members may freshen up. Patients will have dining options with room service-style menu offerings.

See a collection of event photos here.

“Everything is designed to promote the healing process and help people build up their strength and feel good about their recovery and their experience,” Flowers said. “Natural light throughout the facility will create the right healing environment, as well, while features such as touchless technology will promote infection control.”

The hospital will include 12 specialized operating rooms, full imaging capabilities including MRI and CT, laboratory facilities, a blood bank and stem cell lab. The hospital design is 448,819 gross square feet and includes a 673-car parking garage and 200-car surface parking lot.

“This will be a world-class facility with technology and ambience backing up superb medical teams,” Henrich said. “This will be the predominant location of our adult oncology services and, as the name signals, other surgical specialties and clinical research. Here we will create a culture that is caring and passionate about taking care of the patient. This will be a hospital worthy of The University of Texas name.”

Photo of Andrea Marks, Dr. John Zerwas and James "Rad" Weaver
John M. Zerwas, MD, left, executive vice chancellor for health affairs, UT System, and James C. “Rad” Weaver, member of the UT System Board of Regents, visit with Andrea Marks, MBA, CPA, senior executive vice president and chief operating officer, UT Health San Antonio.

“President Henrich’s leadership has been integral to the development of this innovative, first-of-its-kind facility in San Antonio,” said John M. Zerwas, MD, executive vice chancellor for health affairs with The University of Texas System. “The compelling vision he put forward to local leaders yielded the outpouring of support necessary to make this project possible and has earned the community partnerships required to maintain this inpatient environment moving forward.”

Learn more about the hospital project here.

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