Healthcare investment booming in Richmond, Virginia area

January 15, 2019
by Thomas Dworetzky, Contributing Reporter
Healthcare groups are on a building spree in the Richmond, Virginia, area – to the tune of roughly $500 million.

“It’s going like crazy right now, especially here in Richmond,” Leslie Hanson, a principal with architecture firm HKS, who is director of the firm’s Richmond office, told the Richmond-Times Dispatch.

“It’s just amazing,” she told the paper, noting that her firm is “working closely with [Virginia Commonwealth University] VCU, which has a large presence and and whose efforts now are 'tremendous.'”

“Everybody is optimistic, but cautiously optimistic,” she added, observing that the construction in the region is bigger than just healthcare.

VCU Health System has an outpatient medical building underway for $350 million – slated for completion in 2020 – and more in the planning stages, including new inpatient plans in downtown Richmond.

It also has 114-bed, 212,000 square-foot rehabilitation hospital underway jointly with Sheltering Arms for $95 million, with a completion date in 2020.

And a third project, a VCU College of Health Professions building, aiming to bring various programs on its campus into a single, eight-story, 154,000 square-foot structure for $87.3 million, is set to be done in the fall of 2019.

Nor is VCU the only healthcare organization making construction moves in the area.

Health Corporation of America [HCA] Virginia’s Chippenham Hospital is expanding and rehabilitating its ER for about $22 million. It has a slated completion date of year-end 2019.

“We have a lot of traffic through there every single day. It really acts as pretty much the front door to our hospital. ... We have needed to re-engineer the space so that we are more efficient, so that we can care for our patients appropriately based on the level of injury or illness,” Greg Lowe, CEO of Chippenham and Johnston-Willis Hospitals, told the paper.

Also in the pipeline for HCA is an application to convert 16 medical/surgical beds at Retreat Doctors’ Hospital to psychiatric beds – with an approximate cost of $2.8 million.

HCA has also filed a certificate of need to add a CT scanner and an MR scanner at Johnston-Willis Hospital's new 40,000 square foot Brain and Spine Center.

And Chesterfield County's 130-bed Bon Secours St. Francis Medical Center is going through the state permitting process in hopes of adding 55 beds.

“Our plan right now is to [move] vertically on two different towers. We can go up two more floors on each,” hospital CEO Chris Accashian told the Times-Dispatch.

Bon Secours is also planning a three-story, 55,000 square-foot mixed-use medical office building, with construction slated to be finished in late 2020; a 90,000-square-foot ambulatory surgery and medical office facility at its St. Francis campus, with building to start in early 2019; and a 25,000 square-foot outpatient facility at Richmond Community Hospital with construction to start in 2019.

Two reasons for the healthcare building surge: growth in residential housing along Route 288 and residents growing older, he noted.

In addition, hospitals are looking to expand into more community-based facilities to better address consumer interest in convenience and proximity for care.

Such projects include efforts by Bon Secours and Petersburg-based Southside Regional Medical Center to locate imaging facilities in the Chesterfield area.

“This will be a lower-cost option for imaging services for not only Chester residents but the entire South Chesterfield/Tri-Cities area,” said Brandon Seier, spokesman for Southside Regional Medical Center told the paper.

In December, 2017, Healthcare architecture firm E4H Environments for Health Architecture, released seven predictions for healthcare facility design trends in 2018, which should continue into the future.

“From Emergency Departments to microhospitals, to the amenities in, and locations of, hospitals, the year ahead will see continued changes in how healthcare providers are designing and equipping their facilities to meet both patient and market needs,” said Jason Carney, AIA, E4H Partner at the time. “Add in the pressures of rapidly evolving regulations and payment models, and healthcare design has never been more dynamic than it is now.”

Their seven top design trends were: