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VOL. 132 | NO. 246 | Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Leaps and Bounds

Health care grows immensely in 2017 with no end in sight

By Andy Meek

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Methodist Healthcare has been busy with a wave of construction projects this year, like the new tower and parking facility at its Methodist University Hospital campus. (Photo courtesy of Methodist Healthcare)

Memphis’ health care industry was packed with activity in 2017, everything from a slew of new hires and personnel changes to new facility openings, major research announcements and expansions.

And even that doesn’t cover the breadth of news generated by the industry this year, much of which was reflective of just the general direction of health care expanding in the Memphis area.

Take, for example, Campbell Clinic kicking off a $30 million expansion at its Germantown campus. According to CEO George Hernandez, the clinic has run out of space at its current 60,000-square-foot clinic and 12,000-square-foot ambulatory surgery center on 15 acres near Wolf River Boulevard and Germantown Road.

The clinic has been planning a 120,000-square-foot addition that it’s working to complete.

“This is primarily driven by the growth of orthopedics and, fortunately, the selection of Campbell Clinic for that (care),” Hernandez said. “We expect that demand to continue to remain high for decades to come.”

Elsewhere, the Memphis-based National Foundation for Transplants – which serves about 3,500 clients a year and since 1983 has distributed more than $80 million to pay transplant-related costs – told The Daily News it wants to become more of a regional entity, one that does more and has an even higher profile.

That’s one reason the foundation teamed up with the local Good Shepherd Pharmacy to help bring affordable medications to transplant patients in Tennessee.

And then there’s Methodist Healthcare, which has been busy throughout 2017 with a wave of construction projects like the renovation of its intensive care unit at Methodist South in Whitehaven. The system has also been continuing its ongoing modernization and expansion project at its flagship hospital in the Memphis Medical District.

There, a $280 million campus expansion set for completion in 2019 is underway, an effort that includes consolidating outpatient care in a new tower and constructing a new parking plaza that provides 700 parking spaces for access directly into the new tower.

The tower will feature large, private rooms and will enhance efficiency for doctors and nurses.

Part of the same system, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, hired Dr. Patricia Dubin as its new chief of pediatric pulmonology and sleep medicine at the end of 2016. Her efforts really got going this year, and they included an interest in expanding the hospital’s programs in those and similar areas.

At other organizations, meanwhile, the news was no less high profile. Regional One Health teamed up with a national nonprofit, the Camden Coalition, to launch a three-year data-driven project to learn and address why some patients become “high utilizers” of hospital services.

Memphis in October hosted the 15th annual Musculoskeletal New Ventures Conference, an influential confab featuring industry movers and shakers. And earlier this year, a partnership between Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp. and American Esoteric Laboratories resulted in the launch of a 24-hour automated microbiology lab.

The major hospital systems this year also tussled over development of new emergency room facilities in Arlington. Baptist and Saint Francis Healthcare want to build their own ER there, but their plans were rejected by state officials. Methodist opposed both of those efforts. And the whole thing will pick back up again in 2018, as Baptist and Saint Francis pursue appeals – and Methodist continues its opposition.

Regarding new openings in 2017, Baptist was behind more than one of them.

The system added new grief centers in Midtown Memphis and in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Services provided at the centers include things like counseling, camps and workshops.

Baptist also opened the first specialty pharmacy in its system. Housed at 6025 Walnut Grove Road, in the physician office building adjacent to Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis, the pharmacy has a dedicated pharmacist and technician who helps patients monitor and manage medication use and costs.

Over at Crosstown Concourse, meanwhile, Southern College of Optometry opened a new eye clinic in shared space with Church Health Eye Care.

2017 was also a year of fresh blood on a number of fronts, with Methodist North tapping a new CEO; Michael Ugwueke taking the reins of the Methodist Healthcare system as CEO; Saint Francis-Memphis hiring a new chief nursing officer; Rhodes College tapping its first chair in population health; and former Saint Francis CEO Dave Archer joining the faculty at Christian Brothers University’s business school, where he’s focused on being a full-time professor and on the school’s health care MBA program.

In other personnel news, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center tapped a new leader for its Center for Innovation in Health Equity Research. The year’s news also included goodbyes, such as when Dr. Guy Reed – a cardiologist who held leadership roles at UTHSC and Methodist – left Memphis to serve as dean of the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix.

Institutions in Memphis also laid the groundwork in 2017 for major research collaborations and discoveries and future advancements.

UTHSC formed a partnership with Birmingham, Alabama-based nonprofit Southern Research – which has a collection of scientists and engineers working under its banner – as part of an effort to help advance research that could lead to new drug discovery and commercialization.

The partnership links UTHSC’s multi-campus network with Southern Research’s drug discovery and development specialization, which has included developing drugs to fight cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s and tuberculosis, among other diseases.

A St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientist also explained to The Daily News how a team at the hospital has been working on a new approach to fighting the flu, using an investigational cancer drug that’s in clinical trials to treat solid tumors.

Speaking of St. Jude, the hospital tapped one of the top researchers in the world – Dr. Charalampos “Babis” Kalodimos – to be the new chair of its Department of Structural Biology.

The first class of students began their studies at St. Jude’s new Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and St. Jude was ranked as the No. 1 pediatric cancer hospital in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 28th annual “Best Hospitals” list.

That’s not by any means a comprehensive of industry-related developments during 2017. But, if nothing else, it suggests the stage is set for an equally busy year to come.

PROPERTY SALES 91 293 13,051
MORTGAGES 58 168 8,171
BUILDING PERMITS 99 744 30,678
BANKRUPTCIES 34 156 6,220