New heart and vascular hospital at Rex

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — Before Rex Hospital moved in 1980 to its campus on Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh from the building it had occupied since 1937 at St. Mary’s Street and Wade Avenue, it raised $4 million in a capital campaign to develop the new campus.

In the past two years, the Rex Healthcare Foundation has generated $8.6 million in cash and pledges in the quiet phase of capital campaign to raise $10 million to help finance construction of a new Heart and Vascular Hospital.

The $235 million, eight-story, 114-bed facility, set to open in March, will consolidate services now spread among seven locations on the campus.

Now, the Foundation is kicking off the public phase of the campaign, its first since 1980. After focusing on “leadership” gifts of $50,000 or more in the quiet phase and generating donations from about 200 donors, the public phase will focus on smaller gifts, particularly those from individuals and families.

The campaign also has enlisted new donors who previously had not contributed to the annual fund at UNC Rex. In the fiscal year ended June 30, the annual fund raised nearly $2.4 million.

The public phase also aims to net at least $100,000 from the annual Rex Gala on November 12 at the Raleigh Convention Center.

In addition to philanthropic contributions, UNC Rex will use reserves and bonds to finance the new facility.

Chairing the campaign is Tift Mann, a retired cardiologist from Wake Heart and Vascular, now North Carolina Heart and Vascular, a Raleigh-based practice of about three-dozen cardiologists that is the largest in Wake County.

It joined UNC Rex Healthcare in 2011 and serves Wake and eight other counties, mainly south and east of Wake.

UNC Rex Healthcare, formed in 2000 through the merger of Rex and UNC Health Care in Chapel Hill, has seen growing demand for heart and vascular services, says Alan Wolf, manager of media relations at UNC Rex.

Fueling the rising demand, he says, was a spike in referrals after the merger with North Carolina Heart and Vascular, and after UNC Health Care’s affiliation with hospitals in other counties, as well as the region’s booming population and emergence as a destination for retirees and aging boomers.

It also is getting referrals from hospitals not affiliated with the UNC Health Care system. In 2015 alone, 1,804 cardiovascular-related patients were transferred to UNC Rex from hospitals in eight other counties.

Amy Daniels, director of the Rex Healthcare Foundation, says the consolidation of heart and vascular services in the new 306,000-square-foot facility will make it easier for for patients to get the care they need, and for medical staff to provide it.

The new facility also has been designed to foster efficiency and innovation, she says.

Rather than sharing elevators, for example, families and visitors will use public elevators, while hospital caregivers and staff transporting patients will use clinical elevators, including two that can accommodate patients and trauma equipment and teams of up to 20 people.

The hospital will give tracking devices to patients it will use to track their location and analyze efficiency and the flow of patients flow through the facility.

Patients will be able to use the televisions in their rooms and modules assigned by their physicians to learn about their procedures and about topics such as rehabilitation, healthy diet changes and smoking cessation.

And a training facility to be located in conference space known as the Center for Innovation and Learning will include a simulation lab — equipped with devices such as mannequins and computer-generated models — that physicians, vendors and clinicians can use to learn from and teach one another.

The conference space, which will include a demonstration kitchen, also will be used for classes focusing on wellness and prevention, including topics such as healthy eating.

“The goal is to keep people out of the hospital,” Wolf says. “We’re really hoping the facility will be a place where people can come before they get sick to learn how not to get sick.”

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