UAB Medical West
Construction of UAB Medical West’s freestanding emergency department is scheduled to be complete by April 2015. Photo courtesy of UAB Medical West.
By mid-2015, residents will no longer need to drive outside Hoover for emergency care.
UAB Medical West’s freestanding emergency department (FED) is slated to open in May. Right next door will be Hoover’s latest shopping center, The Crossings of Hoover, which is also scheduled to open by spring 2015.
As these developments move forward, residents share mixed feelings on what they will mean for the Hoover community.
Healthcare close to home
City of Hoover Executive Director Allen Pate said the UAB Medical West FED will be the first full medical facility within city limits.
“The freestanding emergency room was certainly something Hoover and its residents needed,” Pate said. “We will have other alternatives for medical emergencies.”
The 24,342-square-foot facility will include exam and trauma rooms, isolation and decontamination units, a full-service lab, a helipad and facilities for diagnostic tests such as CT scans, X-rays, ultrasounds and EKGs. Pate noted that having a nearby FED could become the difference between life and death for victims of car accidents on heavily traveled roads such as I-459 and U.S. 31.
“I absolutely think that a hospital was long overdue,” Maple Trace resident Catherine Cato agreed. “The difference of the 15-minute drive is going to potentially save so many lives.”
Other residents are less sure of the project’s benefits. Meghan Sawyer, who lives on Crowne Chase Parkway, said she would prefer to go to one of the main area hospitals, even if they require a longer drive. She also worried that frequent transportation of patients from the FED to a bigger hospital would drive up healthcare costs. Other concerns from residents included a possible increase in rush- hour traffic and limitations of the facility in treating more severe health problems.
Nathan Clark, the director of business development at Medical West, anticipates between 12,000 and 15,000 visits to the FED in its first year of opening. The FED will be a Level III trauma center, which means it will not have onsite specialists but will have capabilities for surgery and intensive care.
Having a major medical facility in the area could bring other private practices and specialists to John Hawkins Parkway. Sulphur Springs Road resident David Bannister said he is looking forward to the new FED’s opening because of the potential for economic improvement.
“Hoover has always been great at retail, but that’s really good growth when you get professional services coming around,” Bannister said.
As the first FED in the state, Medical West is treading new ground in creating this medical center. Jeff Sims, the architect of record for the project, said the state Department of Public Health did not have regulations for designing an FED when his firm, Sims Architectural Studio, first started its planning.
The design of the freestanding emergency department was heavily based on the recommendations of the Facility Guidelines Institute. When the state passed its own regulations in August 2013, the building Sims had created needed only a few modifications and the addition of a helipad to comply with the rules.
Currently, the building is scheduled for completion in April. Norman Tynes, the executive vice president of developer Harbert Realty Services, said the foundation slab has been poured and steel frames erected. Work on the exterior walls has already begun and interior construction will soon follow.
“We’re moving fast and furious,” Tynes said.
Once it is finished, the Medical West FED will bring around 50 jobs to the area and cost $13.5 million.
New dining and shopping options
Construction work on The Crossings is scheduled to be finished in January, with its shops opening by spring 2015. Jennifer Weyland, a spokesperson for site owner GBT Realty, said the site will include a McDonald’s, Jimmy John’s, Starbucks, nail salon and a 25,000-square-foot Sprouts Farmers Market grocery store. There is additional space that has not yet been leased, as well as neighboring land parcels that could be used by drive-through restaurants.
Resident John Wagner regularly drives Highway 150 and doesn’t see the need for a new shopping center. He pointed out vacant lots on the opposite side of the highway, as well as empty storefronts near the Target on Grove Boulevard as places that could have supported fast food restaurants.
“It seems to me that an already established mall with a major retail anchor would be a prime spot,” Wagner said.
Other residents are looking forward to Sprouts because it will be the first location the grocery chain has opened in Alabama. Based in Arizona, Sprouts is a combination of a farmers market, supermarket and natural foods store. Both Cato and Sawyer said they plan to shop at the grocery store once it opens.
“To have Hoover host it [Sprouts] is just exciting,” Bannister said.
The McDonald’s, which is tentatively scheduled to open by the beginning of December, also marks the first fast food restaurant in the area. Residents will no longer have to drive as far out of their way for a quick meal during their lunch break or after picking up their kids from school.
“There was nowhere between the interstate and Bessemer, other than a gas station, to stop for breakfast, a cup of coffee or a sandwich,” Cato said. “Having a Starbucks, Jimmy John’s and McDonald’s is going to be great for the area.”