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Proposed New UNC Hospital Would Create 300 Jobs in Hillsborough, N.C.

Fri May 15, 2009 - Southeast Edition
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HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (AP) The University of North Carolina wants to build a new, single-story hospital and emergency room near an interstate highway in Hillsborough, creating 300 new jobs.

It would be UNC Health Care’s first hospital built away from its main complex in nearby Chapel Hill. The hospital system, which owns an existing hospital in Raleigh, is part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

University health system leaders are proposing a $227 million, 68-bed hospital on 83 acres near Interstate 40 on the south side of the town. Hospital officials said the project would be paid for by borrowing $100 million, with the rest coming from reserve funds.

The expansion would not add beds for the health care system, which would transfer them from Chapel Hill to the new facility, which is between 10 and 15 miles from the main hospital complex.

“We will have fewer beds crammed into the same space at the main campus,’’ said Amy Bragg, a UNC Health Care vice president.

Officials had hoped to build a $750 million, 300-bed unit in Chapel Hill before the economic downturn.

The Hillsborough hospital could open in 2013 if state regulators approve the project. Construction is expected to start in 2011. The hospital’s application for approval was submitted in mid April to the N.C. Division of Health Service Regulation.

Half of the 600 positions at the new facility would be new and the others would be transfers from UNC Hospitals. Marschall Runge, chairman and professor in the UNC School of Medicine’s Department of Medicine, said there is no plan to increase the number of doctors.

“We’re moving a mixture of inpatient and outpatient procedures,’’ Bragg said. “This will look very similar to our current campus. Somewhere over 60 percent of surgeries moving out there will be inpatient surgeries.’’

Runge also said 49 semiprivate rooms at the main hospital can be converted to private rooms after the new facility is built.

Bragg also said the new facility will have the same level of charity care as the main hospital. She said charity cases account for about 14 percent of the system’s care.

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