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New Cooper Green Hospital in Birmingham Gains Approval to Begin Construction

Tue October 04, 2022 - Southeast Edition
UAB News

Construction of the new, five-story Cooper Green facility will begin this winter. (UAB photo)
Construction of the new, five-story Cooper Green facility will begin this winter. (UAB photo)

The Cooper Green Mercy Health Services Authority has received final approval from the board of trustees of the University of Alabama System to replace the current hospital in Birmingham with a modern medical clinic.

Construction on the new building should begin this winter, according to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) News service in September. The facility is planned to be built on the site of the former Cooper Green parking deck, which was demolished earlier this year.

The news source noted that the new five-story building will be 207,000-sq.-ft. in size and will be constructed at an estimated cost of $120 million.

The general contractor on the project is Birmingham-based Brasfield & Gorrie. The architect is Gresham Smith in Charlotte, N.C.

Hospital to Be Built to 21st-Century Standards

Under an agreement between Jefferson County and the UAB Health System, the Cooper Green Mercy Health Services Authority was created to manage the proposed hospital in April 2020. The body will construct the 21st century facility to replace the current building, which dates to the early 1970s. The older building is costly to support and is no longer suited to the efficient delivery of modern ambulatory health care, the hospital system told UAB News.

"We are building a first-class medical facility to serve the residents of Jefferson County," said David Randall, chief strategy officer of the UAB Health System and board president and CEO of the Cooper Green Mercy Health Services Authority.

"Jefferson County leadership and UAB are committed to providing the highest-quality health care for Cooper Green patients, and this new facility is an important step to achieve that goal."

The authority exists to provide high-quality health care to all residents of Jefferson County, regardless of their ability to pay for medical treatment, Randall added.

Cooper Green is a full-service ambulatory care facility that includes primary and specialty care clinics, urgent care, physical, occupational and speech therapy, laboratory services, imaging and pharmacy.

"We are excited to know that the next stage of Cooper Green's long service to Jefferson County is moving forward," County Manager Cal Markert said in a statement. "The collaboration between the county and the UAB Health System has brought us to this pivotal moment, and we're thrilled we will soon be able to offer our patients a truly world-class medical facility."

The building will feature ultramodern equipment and includes plans for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine, which will ease scheduling for Cooper Green patients needing an MRI, and improved access to care.

"We will be offering services to our patients in the new facility in a more patient-centered manner than we have previously been able to provide in our current building," said Raegan Durant, the medical director at Cooper Green. "But patients will also continue to see familiar faces among our staff. We will blend the best of the past 50 years of service with the benefits [that] the new facility will bring, as we look forward to the next 50 years of caring for our patients."

Among the facility's other amenities are an expanded rehabilitation suite that will include a covered outdoor section for developing better outdoor skills such as navigating curbs and ground surfaces of various heights.

A separate phlebotomy and injection clinic will streamline laboratory visits and improve the process of vaccinations. The clinic areas will be designed to support team-based, multidisciplinary care, making clinic visits more centralized for the comfort of the patients, UAB News noted.

In addition, the medical center also will incorporate natural light throughout the building in stairwells and waiting areas. Oncology infusion suites in the hospital will have windows in each treatment room.

Other amenities planned for Cooper Green are a gift shop, and different food service options are being explored as well.

Cooper Green to Offer Range of Services

The new medical center in Birmingham will house several other professional and community services, including Cahaba Dental, the Recovery Resource Crisis Center, UAB Community Psychiatry and the UAB School of Nursing PATH clinic.

Cooper Green was first known as Mercy Hospital when it opened in 1972 as a 319-bed acute care hospital, owned by Jefferson County to offer medical services to all area residents. Three years later, it was renamed to honor former Birmingham mayor Cooper Green.

The Cooper Green Mercy Health Services Authority is now an affiliate of the UAB Health System.

According to UAB News, Cooper Green will continue to operate normally as an outpatient and urgent care clinic at 1515 6th Avenue South during the construction of the new facility.

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