St. John's Announces $650 Million 10-year Expansion Plan


(Springfield, MO) -- As the population in the Ozarks continues to rapidly grow, so does the need for adequate health care.

Tuesday night, St. John's Health System announced major plans to keep up with demand for years to come.

In the past year, St. John's has identified nearly $650 million in needs for the regional medical community.

The health system is now outlining a ten-year plan that it hopes will meet those needs through new medical centers and services.

St. John's President and C.E.O. Jon Swope outlined several projects on the horizon to expand. This comes after a series of roundtables in 2010.

"This is the first time we've been able to do something like this."

Doctors and patients from 28 communities that St. John's serves discussed their most pressing healthcare needs.

"We took all that information and we've spent the last year really trying to analyze what the different communities said," says Swope.

One of the main concerns is the need for more children's healthcare. As a response, St. John's plans to double the size of its neonatal intensive care unit to 56 beds -- in individual rooms.

"Which will give us the ability to alter daylight to develop sleep patterns for the babies," says Dr. Melinda Slack, Medical Director of Nurseries.

St. John's says Phase one is already under construction and will be completed in 2012. Phase two will begin with the relocation of the St. Jude's program to the new children's hospital tower.

Dr. Stack is the medical director for the unit that currently uses an open ward concept -- placing several babies in the same room. But physicians are finding that the needs of a full-term child are different from his neighbor, who may be 15 weeks premature.

"So the individual room allows you to have an individual setting for each gestational cohort," she says.

There are also plans to expand St. John's Children's Hospital and emergency room, and build a heart hospital on the main campus. Construction on the Ronald McDonald house will begin in the new children's tower with ten bedrooms that have kitchens, dining, laundry, and living spaces.

Even as other industries are slowing due to the economy, St. John's president says the need for health care continues to grow.

"The only way we can keep up with that challenge is to expand and to grow along with the need. Our commitment is to improve health and the only way we can do that is to provide access and facilities for our patients to get care."

The Smith-Glynn-Callaway building will be updated and remodeled with clinic space and a new front entrance.

Just this year, St. John's hired more than 100 physicians and healthcare providers in the southwest Missouri region.

Many of them will staff another major project, the $100 million St. John's Mercy Orthopedic Hospital at Highway 65 and Evans Road. It will include 157,000 square feet of hospital space, and will be complete in 2013.