OU Health University of Oklahoma Medical Center Opens North Tower to Patients
Published: Tuesday, November 3, 2020
The new patient tower at OU Health University of Oklahoma Medical Center has opened its doors, providing patients with the most advanced treatments and technology in a space designed for healing and comfort.
The eight-story North Tower, which provides 144 additional beds and 32 new operating rooms, is the largest hospital expansion project in Oklahoma history and one of the largest in the nation. The new facility reflects the ongoing transformation of Oklahoma’s flagship comprehensive academic health system and its mission to provide services that Oklahomans need to achieve health.
“The opening of the North Tower is an exciting milestone for OU Health and for all of Oklahoma,” said Kris Gose, R.N., President of the University of Oklahoma Medical Center. “This new tower will optimize our ability to provide care at all levels, from trauma services to every type of surgical and medical expertise, in an environment that supports patients and their families.”
The tower is connected to the existing hospital on its north side, on the southeast corner of 13th Street and Lincoln. Groundbreaking was in 2017, and its opening is the culmination of a vision that began more than 10 years ago, said Chuck Spicer, FACHE, President and CEO of OU Medicine. Its completion also follows the announcement of OU Health as the new, unified brand identity to represent the combined efforts of OU Medicine and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
“Oklahomans can be proud of this facility because this is not just another hospital expansion, but an advancement in the way healthcare is delivered,” Spicer said. “Healthcare is a team effort that begins with our patients, surrounded by an interdisciplinary team of providers working together to deliver the best care.”
The tower brings 450,000 additional square feet and a new medical Intensive Care Unit. Another floor is dedicated to hematology-oncology, bone marrow transplant and stem cell therapy, where OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center patients will receive treatments offered nowhere else in the state, including CAR-T, an immune therapy that harnesses the body’s own immune cells to recognize and eliminate cancer cells.
As home to Oklahoma’s only Level 1 Trauma Center, the University of Oklahoma Medical Center provides in-house expertise to treat the most traumatic and complex injuries. The North Tower increases the capacity and technology to care for those with the most severe injuries.
“The advantage of building a new hospital facility is that it is designed for the modern practice of healthcare,” said orthopedic and trauma surgeon David Teague, M.D., OU Physicians Director of Adult Services, Perioperative Surgical Director at University of Oklahoma Medical Center and Department Chair of Orthopedics at the OU College of Medicine. “The operating rooms were created for today’s surgical teams and to accommodate the most advanced technology. We care for more patients with complex conditions than anyone else in the state, and this new facility will play a major role in attracting national leading specialists to practice at OU Health.”
More noticeable to patients are the oversized rooms with extra space for families. All patient rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows that let in natural light, and because all rooms are on an outside wall, patients and families will have views of downtown Oklahoma City, the State Capitol and the OU Health Center campus. Nature was introduced in various ways, including natural elements in the design, a healing garden on the fourth floor and a courtyard garden on the first floor. The design of the North Tower, created by architecture firm Perkins & Will, is inspired by the Gloss Mountains northwest of Oklahoma City, a series of mesas and buttes where gypsum sparkles on the slopes.
“Hospitalization is s significant life event for most patients, and their support network of family and friends is key to their healing,” Gose said. “The new tower offers spacious rooms and amenities that maximize comfort, communication and rest. Because nature is a vital part of the human condition, the natural elements in the design, as well as the large windows, connect patients to the outdoors.”
The large patient rooms are also key because today’s patient care is increasingly delivered by interdisciplinary teams. In addition to doctors and nurses, patients may see other healthcare providers from the specialties of pharmacy, physical therapy, nutritional sciences or social work.
OU Health combines the resources and efforts of OU Health Sciences Center and OU Medicine to train the next generation of health professionals and researchers, in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The design of the North Tower incorporates the educational mission of the health system, with additional meeting space for students and residents, as well as simulation rooms where trainees can practice procedures using advanced technology.
“The new tower enables us not only to deliver exceptional care to more Oklahomans, but also to train the students and residents who will be the healthcare leaders of tomorrow,” said Jason Sanders, M.D., MBA, Senior Vice President and Provost of the OU Health Sciences Center. “The patient care at OU Health is distinguished by the research that takes place across our academic health system, and through the clinical trials that provide patients with the most advanced treatments and diagnostics in Oklahoma.”
The opening of the North Tower at University of Oklahoma Medical Center comes nearly three years after OU Medicine, Inc. became a locally owned, nonprofit academic healthcare system, paving the way for additional collaboration, partnership and innovation with OU Health Sciences Center. As OU Health continues to grow, it will also drive economic growth in Oklahoma, Spicer said, with the hiring of additional healthcare providers and support staff.
“We have seen tremendous growth across our campus -- achievements that have been possible because of our collaboration between the University Hospitals Authority and Trust, OU Health Sciences Center and OU Medicine. We are fortunate to have physician leaders, administrators, nurses and the entire team ready to carry the vision of OU Health into the future,” Spicer said. “Everyone has stepped up to meet the challenges posed this year by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the acceleration of two floors of the tower to care for patients fighting the virus. Even during this difficult year, the opening of the North Tower serves as an inspiration for all of us and a symbol of our commitment to the people of Oklahoma.”