Doctors get a look at new care center

The University’s Health Clinics and Surgery Center had one of its first unveilings on Thursday.

Kaylee Kruschke

With a little more than a year until its grand opening, the site of the University of Minnesota’s upcoming ambulatory care center looks like a skeleton of its future self.

Hard hats, caged lights and dangling wires dot the concrete floors and empty steel frames that will eventually be home to a training, research and health care facility.

Donors, future physicians and administrators of the facility toured the newly named, $160 million University of Minnesota Health Clinics and Surgery Center at a private event Thursday. When its doors open in January 2016, the 318,000-square-foot building will house an outpatient surgery center, research labs and the Masonic Cancer Center.

The Health Clinics and Surgery Center will serve a majority of University of Minnesota Physicians’ patients, said the organization’s chief operating officer, Mary Johnson.

Both the medical community and the patients it serves will benefit from having many services centralized in a single location on Fulton Street Southeast, Medical School Dean Dr. Brooks Jackson said.

“We hope to be able to create more of a one-stop shopping visit for patients,” Jackson said.

The center will serve three roles, he said. By providing care, training the next generation of health professionals and conducting groundbreaking research, the center represents the “future of health care,” Jackson said.

The Health Clinics and Surgery Center will be open 12 hours a day and briefly on the weekends. This is different from the current operating hours at the Phillips Wangensteen building, which houses the Masonic Cancer Center, said Dr. Bobbi Daniels, CEO for University Physicians.

To make its services more affordable than in the past, the clinic will run on a “different economic model” from other University centers, she said.

“Not only will there be a great building or really great care,” Daniels said, “but it will be more accessible and a greater value to our patients.”

Jackson said the clinic’s opening will introduce patients to new experimental therapies and medical devices.

“It will really change the way we deliver health care and enable us to test out new care models,” he said.

Construction on the site, which began in December 2013, has steadily moved forward  despite some unexpected weather, said Jennifer Radniecki, assistant project manager for McGough Construction, the company overseeing the project.

Most of the building’s six steel-framed levels should be walled in and windowed by December, said Rick Steinberger, a superintendent for McGough. By mid-October, he said, the structure will have a roof.

At Thursday’s event, Steinberger described how serpentine glass walls will encase some of the now-empty floors and the first two levels bridged by a massive staircase.

The clinic will also have the “latest and greatest” in technology, Johnson said.

“Not only [will] technology change the experience for our patients,” she said, “but [it] will change the experience as well for our physicians as they interact with each other in much more efficient ways.”

The University is still working out some logistics, like transporting staff and patients to other campus buildings, Johnson said.

“If you think about the pressure that health care and the medical industry is undergoing, there’s a lot of responses that we as an academic medical center and academic system need to make,” Daniels said. “A lot of that is embodied in the changes represented in this building.”