UW Health announces plans to expand emergency care spaces at University Hospital, East Madison Hospital

Source: UW Health

UW Health’s board of directors Thursday approved moves intended to boost surgical, emergency and inpatient capacity at two of the health system’s hospitals. The board approved up to $310 million for the projects, though construction costs are only expected cost between $180 and $220 million.

The plans would see a new six-story structure added to University Hospital. The new building would house 22 emergency department rooms, 22 flexible care beds and 48 inpatient rooms. The second project, at East Madison Hospital, will add six operating rooms, 40 recovery rooms, 20 rooms for post-anesthesia care, 14 flexible care rooms, 20 emergency department rooms and four care rooms that can be shared between the emergency department and medical imaging.

“We are excited to expand the physical footprint of the emergency departments at University Hospital and East Madison Hospital,” said Ciara Barclay-Buchanan, MD, vice chair of clinical operations for the BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine. “The additional space will allow us to continue to provide remarkable healthcare to the growing number of patients needing emergency care within our community and beyond.”

The moves are part of UW Health’s broader expansion plans to meet the growing demand for its hospital services.

In fiscal year 2023, UW Health saw record numbers of surgeries and visits to emergency departments and clinics, UW Health spokesperson Emily Greendonner said. In the last two years, emergency visits were up by 20% and surgeries increased by 9%.

The increasing demand for care at UW Health is driven by multiple factors, including a strong reputation as the best hospital in Wisconsin, local population growth, an aging population and a series of capacity challenges faced by regional and rural health systems.

“We have an opportunity to meet the needs of these patients, but to do that, we need to grow,” said Dr. Peter Newcomer, chief operating officer, UW Health. “This growth will also allow us to continue to serve our current patients more effectively as this exciting work will improve the flow through our health system for all patients.”

The new space at University Hospital will be located between the UW Medical Foundation Centennial Building, 1685 Highland Ave., and University Hospital.

Construction on both projects is expected to wrap up in 2026, pending local government approvals.