Carilion Clinic expansion to focus on heart health, mental health and parking

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - One of our region's largest employers is setting up for a major expansion. Roanoke Memorial Hospital announced Wednesday morning a plan for a $500 million addition and renovation.

What's coming is a five year long project to improve three of the most important things to this hospital: heart health, mental health and parking.

"This is a really big step forward for our region," said CEO Nancy Agee.

It was a surprise announcement finally revealed Wednesday morning at Carilion Clinic.

"Ready to see the renderings of the expansion?" asked Steve Arner, Chief Operating Officer for Carilion Clinic.

"Yeah!"

It was an enthusiastic reply by some of the area's leaders which matched enthusiastic leadership.

"It's such an exciting day," Agee said. "I have to tell you we could hardly sleep last night! We were all laughing, talking to each other."

What kept Agee up with anticipation is the addition of 400,000 square feet onto the existing hospital. It is what will eventually be dubbed the Crystal Spring Tower.

It'll replace the old tennis courts and take over a portion of the water treatment plant. There, they're promising several floors of parking, an expanded emergency department and several floors for the cardiovascular institute.

The Crystal Spring Tower will be attached to a pedestrian bridge leading to a brand new Behavioral Health Care center. The current building will be torn down and replaced with more than 500 parking spaces.

"I'm really proud and then I go quickly to how much work is gonna be involved to get from where we are today to realization of that picture," said CFO Don Halliwill. "But I know our team is up for it so it's really exciting."

In 2015 the city rezoned property next to the hospital that will allow Carilion Clinic to build onto the existing facility.

In making comparisons, leaders said this expansion will make them one of the largest hospitals in Virginia. Carilion decided to make this announcement today because they feel like they've got a pretty good plan in place and financial stability. They plan to pay for it with savings and by issuing bonds. The construction itself will cost an estimated $300 million, with about $2 million spent on outfitting the new structures.

Leaders say the community will have a chance to give input throughout this whole process. Agee says she has big expectations for her hospital.

"What I want people to think of Carilion now and in the near future and in the far future, is that we are one of the most caring, compassionate, innovative, state of the art places in the country."