Universities with medical research, health services have millions to spend on upcoming projects

June 5, 2024

Medical schools represent billions in spending each year, and the federal government provides financial support throughout the U.S. They conduct incredible research and provide outstanding services to the general public at the institutions.

There are currently 156 accredited medical schools in America, and the public and private institutions receive about $4 billion in funding and other types of grant support annually. Hundreds of collaborative opportunities exist, and the projects should be of high interest since public universities spent $63.8 billion on facilities, equipment and other projects in the 2021-2022 academic year.  More current data is not yet public.

State and local governments tend to allocate an additional $311 billion-plus for higher education, and at least 10% of that funding is for capital projects. This suggests that approximately $30 billion in state and local spending on university capital projects is spent annually, with a significant portion of that amount dedicated to university medical care and research facility projects.

The University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) recently received funding for a project to convert the fourth floor of the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center into a general medical and surgical acute care unit. The projected cost is $169 million. The hospital’s increasingly high acute care demand is beyond the university’s capacity, and patients are forced to wait for care. The plans are to leave as much existing infrastructure in place as possible while redesigning and taking maximum advantage of the currently available space. The reconfiguration of the floor to acute care space will increase inpatient capacity by 23%. The project will renovate 67,000 square feet and construction is scheduled for March 2026.

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee will soon benefit from the launch of a $136.5 million expansion of its Northwest Quadrant buildings. The project will increase student capacity by 15% and consolidate the school’s health sciences programs, labs and classrooms. The newly renovated space will house multiple healthcare disciplines, including orthopedics, physical therapy, assistive technology, speech and audiology, medical imaging and nutrition and wellness.  More than 300,000 gross square feet across three buildings will be renovated. The work will include removing old hospital treatment rooms and clinic space while redesigning the space for instructional use. All the architectural, mechanical, electrical, telecommunications and plumbing systems will be replaced. New insulation on the exterior envelope will be installed, and extensive improvements will be made to bring the buildings up to modern code. The current scope of work is preceded by years of planning efforts and other construction projects. When complete, the project will reduce duplication of equipment and significantly improve the efficient use of the existing space. Currently, the project is in the development phase, and construction will likely not begin until 2028.

Officials at the Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU) will oversee a $65 million project to consolidate all its health academic programs and construct a facility on its Auraria Higher Education Center campus. The six-story building will offer 70,000 square feet of space and be designed to host 10 programs. It will also increase its collective student capacity by 25%. The expanded capacity will allow the university to accept about 500 additional students annually.

The new facility will include formal classroom spaces, immersive health education spaces, two public clinics, administrative offices and a cafe. It will be connected via a walkway to the adjacent West Classroom Building. The Colorado state legislature approved $50 million for the initiative. Its design phase will begin in July 2024 and continue until June 2025. Construction is scheduled for 2025.

The University of Louisville, part of the Kentucky State University System, is scheduled for a $25 million construction project to deliver a new facility for cancer research and treatment in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. The goal is to extend the reach of cancer care to the south, central and western regions of the state. Project components will involve developing infusion and examination rooms, an oncology pharmacy, a lecture hall and a diagnostic imaging suite. Research laboratory space will provide room for clinical trials and specimen processing. The facility will be an addition to the south hospital campus, which opened recently, and it will also expand access to cancer treatment for rural residents of the state. This effort was funded by the state, and it is on a fast track because cancer kills a higher rate of Kentucky residents than deaths in any other state – nearly 10,000 Kentuckians die of cancer every year. Currently in the design phase, the project has slated construction for May 2025.

Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Dentistry is currently the only dental school in Virginia, and it is the largest dental care provider for patients with Medicaid insurance. However, the school’s current facilities have accessibility issues and significant deferred maintenance needs. A recent grant of $5.2 million from the state has allowed planning work for a new School of Dentistry building to commence. The new facility will be located at the medical center campus, which will provide proximity to other health system facilities, access to the local bus route and ample parking. The estimated $415 million construction project will remodel the student center building to make space for dentistry classrooms, patient clinics and laboratories. New equipment and technology will expand dental and dental hygiene classes and maximize care for the public, including underserved populations. Once completed, the new facility will allow for increased enrollment and enhanced patient care.

Now is the appropriate time to get more details on upcoming healthcare related projects at universities that provide medical research and healthcare services in all states. 

Photo courtesy of UCLA Health

Mary Scott Nabers

Mary is President/CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI), a business development/public affairs firm that specializes in procurement consulting, market research, government affairs, knowledge transfer and public-private partnerships (P3s). Mary is also co-founder of the Gemini Global Group (G3), a firm that works with national and international clients on business development, P3s, and other types of government objectives.

A recognized expert regarding P3s, Mary is the author of Collaboration Nation – How Public-Private Ventures Are Revolutionizing the Business of Government and Inside the Infrastructure Revolution – A Roadmap for Rebuilding America.

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