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Regents approve Cardiovascular Center

It takes a unified offense to defeat a stubborn foe. That's why the U-M Health System (UMHS) plans to take on the nation's leading killer, cardiovascular disease, in a new $168 million Cardiovascular Center that will unify operating rooms, patient rooms, clinics, classrooms and laboratories.

Having received approval from the Board of Regents on Sept. 19, UMHS will begin the architectural planning for the first phase of a world-class Cardiovascular Center for patient care. Construction of a 345,000-square-foot clinical facility and 400-space parking deck will begin in Oct. 2003, and the building will be in use by early 2007.

A second project for an adjoining cardiovascular research facility is in the planning stage and will be submitted to the regents at a future meeting.

The clinical care facility will rise from the heart of the U-M medical campus. Nestled among major hospital and research buildings, it will connect via artery-like passages to several levels of the University Hospital, the Cancer and Geriatrics Center, and C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

Plans call for the center and its parking garage to be built on the former site of the "Old Main" hospital that served patients until the mid-1980s, along and behind a steep rise known as "Cardiac Hill."

"Heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular problems kill more Americans than any other disease group, and Michigan has the sixth worst coronary death rate in the U.S.," says Dr. Kim Eagle, who on July 1 became the Cardiovascular Center's clinical director. "We must fight back with every weapon we have, and develop new ones through research. This center will help us fulfill our mission to attack cardiovascular disease in Michigan and throughout the nation."

The new clinical building will help meet the surging demand for cardiovascular services. In the past five years, outpatient visits and inpatient cases have risen by 33 percent. While the new center is being built, UMHS will continue offering cutting-edge treatment options for adults and children with heart and vascular problems at its current facilities.

"This building will represent a major addition to the U-M medical center, bringing all our expertise together to focus on a single important group of diseases," says Dr. Lazar Greenfield, interim executive vice president for medical affairs, who presented the project proposal to the regents at their meeting.

When completed, the new building will feature eight operating rooms dedicated to cardiac and vascular surgery; 24 intensive-care patient beds; 36 outpatient exam rooms; a total of 14 procedure labs where heart and blood vessel exams, scans and procedures can take place; and a state-of-the-art, noninvasive diagnostic facility.

The all-in-one design will ensure that patients will receive coordinated care from their medical and surgical teams, from outpatient visits and tests to surgery and recovery. Nearby teaching space will help UMHS train tomorrow's cardiovascular specialists.

By the end of the decade, the planned cardiovascular research building will house more than 120,000 square feet of research laboratories for 30 top scientists and their teams. Their research into the molecular, genetic and cellular underpinnings of heart and vascular disease and treatment will be conducted in grouped laboratory "neighborhoods" that will foster integration and communication.

The Cardiovascular Center concept received its initial approval in fall 2000, giving UMHS the go-ahead to coordinate services, raise funds and plan the space for the proposed buildings. The Sept. 19 vote will permit architectural design to begin, starting with the selection of Boston architectural firm Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott.

In addition to the construction of the center's clinical building, the initial project will include the removal of a staff parking lot, the demolition of an outdated office building and the building of a $16 million parking garage for patients and staff. The total cost of the project is $196 million. Even as the clinical care building is designed and built, fund raising will continue for the research facility.

The Cardiovascular Center concept already brings many programs together under one organizational umbrella, says center administrator Linda Larin, but the new building will make that cooperation easier by consolidating their physical location.

For more information on the U-M Cardiovascular Center, visit

The regents also approved a proposal to expand the Pediatric Cardio/Thoracic Unit in the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital from 12 to 15 beds by spring 2003. That unit provides intensive specialized care for the hundreds of children who undergo heart surgery through the Michigan Congenital Heart Center each year.

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