One of Jonesboro’s largest employers announced an ambitious four-year project to upgrade its facilities and to improve access to healthcare in the region. During a Thursday morning (Dec. 17) press conference, officials with St. Bernards Healthcare said the $130 million project has already begun with officials working on the first phase of the project.
The project will have four phases and is expected to be complete by 2019. The first phase will include a $9 million expansion to the hospital’s cancer treatment center, with the almost $8 million second phase involving the hospital’s heart care center. The first phase at the cancer center will also include renovations to several existing buildings. The expansion at the heart care center will allow the hospital to do more evasive services including cardiac catheterization, officials said.
The third phase is the largest part of the project and will see $75 million invested in a 245,000-square-foot facility, with room for additional growth. The new three-level tower will include an emergency helipad, with an emergency entrance just off Church Street, said Kevin Hodges, a vice president with the hospital. The tower will include areas for surgery and ICU. The first level will have 14 surgery rooms, a pharmacy and a gastrointestinal lab while the second level will have a 40-bed critical care unit.
The final phase will include a 205,000-square-foot, $28 million renovation of the medical center at the corner of Carson Street and Washington Avenue in Jonesboro.
Hodges said the expansion will change the landscape of downtown Jonesboro.
With the construction, several programs and facilities will be moved to the facility. For instance, the expansion will require the hospital’s Clopton Clinic to be moved to the main campus. The clinic, which treats cancer patients, is located about three blocks from the hospital.
Once the clinic moves into the hospital, an internal medicine clinic will move into the Clopton Clinic building.
St. Bernards CEO Chris Barber said the move will combine the hospital’s oncology departments and help with efficiency of the department. Barber said a new osteopathy school at Arkansas State University slated to open next year will help to recruit new employees to the expanded campus.
Barber did not speculate on the number of jobs that would be created at the hospital, but said it would add to the 3,000 jobs at the hospital and its clinics. Barber said the project will be paid for through existing capital with about 25% of the cost to be financed through a loan from First Security Bank.
Nabholz Construction of Jonesboro was selected to help build the project. The company is expected to hire between 150 to 200 construction workers to help with construction.
The first phase is expected to be complete by October 2016, with the second phase starting this spring. The second phase is planned to be complete by winter 2017, while the third phase will begin in 2017. The final phase will begin in 2019.