University Medical Center looks to add new unit

UMC CEO says hospital needs more beds

EL PASO, Texas - University Medical Center is moving ahead of schedule according to their CEO Jim Vallenti.

Vallenti told El Paso County Commissioners court members that UMC is looking to expand their hospital.  It appears that the hospital is at capacity these days.

An intermediate care unit (IMCU) is slated to be built after UMC's executive committee and finance committe have approved the project.  Commissioners approved the project unanimously on Monday.

The project would house 19 new patient beds for people who need less care than intensive care unit (ICU) patients, but more help than the general floor patients.

The unit was originally slated to be looked at in 2014, but patient growth has forced the hospitals' hand, according to Vallenti.  He said UMC was a victim of their own success.  The unit may be needed now, but it likely won't be ready to open for an additional 19 months.

"I wish it were shorter, we'll miss this year and next," said Vallenti.  "That's the busy season, but we'll try to expedite it."

The IMCU was always planned, however, it wasn't expected to be needed until next year.  As a result, plans are already in place to build.

More budget talks will occur in the coming months, but Vallenti said this project wouldn't effect anything already happening at the hospital.  The project will be paid for out of the cash reserves UMC now has.  Those reserves are estimated around $72 million now.

UMC will try to keep those reserves by spending roughly $3 million during this fiscal year, and another $5 million during the next.  The amount of the reserves is meant to stay around $75-$100 million in the event something were to close the hospital making up for the $1 million it costs to keep the doors open daily.

As for the IMCU, Vallenti called it an unusual circumstance to be so far ahead of schedule to build ahead of schedule.  He said it's the first time he's brought a non-budgeted project before Commissioners for approval, however, it should be a speedy process since plans have already been made.

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