The University of Kentucky took another step Monday toward filling the partially vacant patient tower at its Albert B. Chandler Hospital.
The UK Board of Trustees approved completion of the 11th floor of what's called Pavilion A, using $75 million in hospital revenue to create 64 patient beds and six more operating rooms.
Once the 11th floor is equipped, the 12-story tower will be 81 percent occupied, officials said.
Additionally, the board approved spending $600,000 to renovate and upgrade the emergency department at UK HealthCare Good Samaritan Hospital. Approximately 12,090 square feet of the emergency department will be renovated. The project also will expand the patient and family waiting area by about 1,250 square feet.
Officials said the two projects reflect increasing patient demand at both hospitals.
"Our rapid growth — going from the 25th to 75th percentile among academic medical centers — has led to us playing 'catch up' for the past decade to meet current patient demands for our services that include care for the most critically ill patients who need complex and advanced subspecialty care," said Dr. Michael Karpf, UK executive vice president for health affairs.
Last month, the state approved the addition of 120 beds to UK HealthCare, which includes the UK Hospital and Good Samaritan. The beds approved by the board of trustees Monday account for just over half of the newly authorized beds.
When complete, the entire complex will have 945 beds, an increase of 14.5 percent.
The patient tower project began in 2004 with an estimated cost of $400 million and an original completion date of 2009. Now it's a $1 billion project, and there no longer is a completion date, Karpf said.
The tower was seen as a replacement for the older Chandler building, but growth in patient volume means parts of that building will remain open.
UK tracks patient volume in several ways. For example, dis charges have increased from 22,260 in 2005 to a projected 36,351 in 2015, a 63 percent increase. The "average daily census" has increased from 252 patients in 2005 to 567 in 2012. More recently, that number was about 683, officials said.