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VOL. 118 | NO. 235 | Tuesday, December 28, 2004

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By Andy Meek

Transplant Institute Project Pushes Ahead

Group seeks to become Top 20 facility within five years


The Daily News

Once its permanent space is finished in early 2005, the transplant center at Methodist University Hospitals Union Avenue campus hopes to begin garnering national recognition as a premier transplant group.

Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute is in the midst of construction of a new facility after moving this summer from the UT Bowld Hospital to Methodist University Hospital on Union. About $9 million in construction is under way at the site to adapt some parts of the hospital for use by the 20-year-old transplant group.

Projects under way. The move, expected to be completed by spring, calls for reconfiguring some of the hospitals floors to make room for patient beds and suites for patient families, as well as a transplant intensive care unit, a multidisciplinary transplant clinic and a transplant procedure area with two procedure rooms and five recovery bays.

The hospital campus at 1265 Union is seeing a bevy of construction activity related to the move. Two building permits were issued Nov. 1 for $100,000 and $750,000 for ICU renovations at the hospital, and a building permit was issued Dec. 8 for $750,000, according to The Daily News Public Records Database, www.memphisdailynews.com.

Barry Marshall, administrator of the Transplant Institute, said the groups first transplant in the new facility was completed this summer after it moved into existing space in the hospital, and more than 50 have been done since that time. Including physicians, surgeons, nursing staff, administrative and clerical employees, the Transplant Institute employs about 200 workers.

Right now, what were doing is utilizing space that already exists within University Hospital while all of the new state-of-the-art space is being renovated and/or built, Marshall said.

Highest-ever volume. He said the new space will give a significant boost to the transplant group, allowing it to expand its yearly transplant volume by 17 percent above its highest-ever annual transplant volume. The Transplant Institute is one of just 10 institutes in the country to be named an Islet Cell Resource Center by the National Institute of Health, due to the groups work in the transplantation of islet cells.

Construction on the project should be completed by April 15. Marshall said the new space and Methodists commitment to solid organ transplants means the group could easily become a nationally recognized transplant center.

From a volume standpoint, our goal is to be one of top 20 centers in country within the next five years, and its a very feasible goal based on the volume projections we have, Marshall said. We targeted 13 managed care agreements to get into by 2005, for example, and weve already gotten into 12 of those 13, so thats a huge accomplishment in the last six months weve been able to do.

The program itself used to be very viable, then volume started dropping off, and now with the new commitment that Methodist has made to solid organ transplantation, the overall ability for us to become a nationally recognized transplant institute is pretty great, actually.

New spaces. Currently, construction is under way on 15 inpatient rooms, as well as administrative offices to house 45 staffers from the transplant group. Marshall said a multidisciplinary transplant clinic is also under construction on the first floor of the hospital. Across the hall, a transplant procedure area will go in, and next to that, an eight-bed inpatient dialysis unit for the transplant program is under construction.

The other project going right now is the two new operating rooms that are also under construction for transplant services, Marshall said. Theyre about 900 square feet, each attached with a scrub room. Weve also taken over 2,200 square feet in the Midtown diagnostic center, and well be opening that up for our transplant patients in mid-February, so well able to see patients over there.

What were going to be doing is sending all of our transplant patients through the Midtown diagnostic center for all of their diagnostic-evaluation needs over a 48-hour period. So were going to be literally taking the amount of time it used to take to work out patients from about three months to three weeks, and its all due to the move and the commitment Methodist has made to the Transplant Institute.

National recognition. Coinciding with the grand opening of the groups facility in the spring, the United Network for Organ Sharing conference will be held at The Peabody in May. Marshall said representatives from more than 200 transplant centers throughout the country will attend the event in Memphis.

For now, he said the group is focused on its goal to become a nationally recognized transplant institute.

More importantly, citizens in Memphis have access now to incredible technology from a transplant standpoint and a program that offers efficiencies in being listed for transplant with UNOS or with living donors much quicker than the vast majority of any transplant program in the country, he said. Thats due to efforts in the last year and Methodists commitment to the Transplant Institute.


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