Cost to expand University’s emergency department increases

It will cost University Hospital quite a bit more to expand its Emergency Department in part because of all of the construction going on in the area, officials said.


University’s board voted Thursday to boost the budget for its massive Emergency Department expansion by $12 million to $42 million after the costs increased far more than previously estimated. Part of it is due to it being more expensive to build locally because of all of the construction projects underway, CEO Jim Davis said. For instance, the Georgia Technology Authority is building the $60 million Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center on Reynolds Street and there are massive construction projects underway at Fort Gordon, he said.

“It is hard to even get a subcontractor to bid on a project any more because it is so busy,” Davis said. That alone added about $2 million more to the expansion.

It cost $3.6 million more to move various departments around the hospital to accommodate the expansion and a number of items, such as electrical panels, that were going to be re-used were scrapped because they no longer met code requirements, said Doug Armstrong, director of construction. It was also more expensive than planned to meet new standards for noise and seismic stability, he said.

“A lot of infrastructure isn’t meeting current code requirements,” Armstrong said, adding about $6.4 million more in construction costs. Information technology was also going to be nearly $3 million more than planned, he said. While the board approved the $42 million budget, that is a “worst case” budget and Davis said there may be significant savings created from tweaking areas of the project.

The current emergency department was only designed for 54,000 patient visits and saw 83,000 last year, so the expansion is definitely needed, particularly because a significant number of those patients go on to a stay in the hospital, he said.

“For 40 percent of our patients, this is the front door of the hospital,” Armstrong said. “We felt it needed some serious change. We need to fix it right once and for all. This community needs a good ER.”

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or



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