Central Baptist announces major expansion, delays Hamburg hospital

Central Baptist Hospital announced Wednesday it will spend $200 million to expand its Nicholasville Road campus with a seven-story addition that will include a cancer center and a women's center.

The addition, totaling almost 338,000 square feet, will be built just north of Central Baptist's existing hospital. Construction is to start late this summer, with completion expected in two to 21/2 years.

The hospital's previously announced plans to expand to the Hamburg area off Interstate 75 in east Lexington will be pushed back by a decade or longer, said William Sisson, Central Baptist's president and CEO. The hospital owns 129 acres in Hamburg.

When the Hamburg plan was announced in June 2006, Central Baptist said it planned to close the Nicholasville Road facility within six or seven years and sell the property. The following October, it said it planned to offer services at both sites.

Central Baptist officials said that because of the current economic environment and the "uncertainties" of health-care reform, "it appears that a more realistic time frame for a possible second campus may be within 10 to 15 years."

"Regeneration of the Nicholasville Road campus was found to be more feasible in order to provide the best solution to the hospital's current needs, as well as those in its more immediate future. The Hamburg property continues to be a viable part of the hospital's future plans," officials said in a statement.

The decision to expand on Nicholasville Road, rather than build in Hamburg now, grew out of a master facilities planning process that has been going on for about three years, hospital officials said. The focus began to shift from Hamburg to Nicholasville Road with the national economic downturn.

"We felt that we have buildings on this campus and location that we can use for the next 10 to 15 years," Sisson said.

"We're really excited because we feel like this will better enable us to meet the needs of the community."

Sisson said the Nicholasville Road addition will include:

■ A state-of-the art cancer center with facilities for radiation therapy, chemotherapy and a CyberKnife installation.

■ A three-floor women's center with labor and delivery, surgical and neonatal intensive care facilities.

■ Forty intensive care beds, 44 private medical-surgical beds and inpatient imaging services.

Overall, the hospital's total number of beds will remain at 383. However, the expansion will allow all hospital rooms at Central Baptist to be private, Sisson said.

Plans also call for a new, five-floor parking garage with room for 400 cars, plus two additional floors of medical office space. Plans to remedy traffic flow problems at the Nicholasville Road campus will be part of the mix. The addition will be connected to the existing hospital via a curved, ground-level walkway. A new kitchen and cafeteria will be built southeast of the existing hospital.

According to Sisson, the expansion should allow the Nicholasville Road location to continue to meet area medical care needs for the next decade or longer, until conditions are more favorable for a new hospital at Hamburg.

"We think that what we're trying to accomplish here will hold us on this campus for the next 10 to 15 years," he said of the Nicholasville Road site. "Our future will be out at Hamburg. That's probably where we will be looking at a second hospital in the future."

Central Baptist officials said they now have no immediate plans for the 129 acres in Hamburg. But Sisson said interim possibilities might range from an emergency center to a diagnostic center.

The hospital's interest in Hamburg first surfaced in 2004, when hospital officials said they was a considering building a diagnostic center there.

Central Baptist opened a clinic at Wal-Mart in the Hamburg shopping district in November. It also operates an outpatient diagnostic center in Hamburg and owns a physician practice center there.

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