Medical Center construction enters second phase

The project has created disruptions for patients and visitors at the East Bank location.

by Megan Palmer

The University of Minnesota Medical Center expansion is entering its second phase this month, which will increase congestion near the East Bank Hospital.

The $111 million project began in the summer and will continue into late 2020. The second phase of construction, which began in October, will focus on renovating the main entrance and lobby of the East Bank Medical Center. Visitors are facing an increase in disruption in the area, though construction workers are trying to redirect the flow of traffic and pedestrians to keep disruption in the area to a minimum.

Accessibility to the building will become an even bigger issue in the coming weeks as the northbound lane on Harvard Street will be closed Nov. 5 through Nov. 9 due to construction. An anonymous security guard who works at the University Medical Center said that the lane closure coupled with the construction will anger and confuse patients.

“A lot of the [patients] aren’t from the city, they’re from out of town,” the security guard said. “They’re already having a hard time finding us. It causes a lot of anxiety.”

The construction project is being headed by Fairview Health Services, the health provider that runs the University Medical Center. The construction project will include renovations of both the East Bank and West Bank Medical Center campuses and focus on creating a larger emergency department, upgraded operating rooms and a renovation of the nursing units. Another addition to the Medical Center will be new MRI technology, which uses real-time imaging to guide complex procedures such as brain tumor removals.

Earlier this year, the University, Fairview and University of Minnesota Physicians announced a partnership that would bring together the Medical Center and Fairview’s 11 hospitals and 56 clinics into a single health care delivery system. The combined system, called M Health Fairview, will launch in 2019.

The Medical Center construction underway is needed to help serve an increasing patient population and to advance health care innovation, said Eric Schubert, a Fairview spokesperson.

“[The center is] a health care destination for people needing the specialized services academic medicine offers,” he said.

Freshman Angie Dimitrov lives in Centennial Hall near the East Bank Medical Center. She said the construction on the Medical Center and on Pioneer Hall across the street is not too disruptive.

“Sometimes in the mornings I will hear construction going on, but it always gets me out of bed for my 8 a.m.” Dimitrov said.