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SLU, SSM Health Break Ground for New Era of Compassionate Care


Saint Louis University and SSM Health broke ground at a “sacred intersection” where cutting edge research, Jesuit-inspired academic training and compassion will yield world-class care for those entering the new SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital.

SLU President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., joined other dignitaries to kick off construction.SLU President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., joined other dignitaries to kick off construction.

University President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., joined SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital President Kate Becker, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, Congressman William Lacy Clay Jr., Auxiliary Bishop Mark Rivituso, D.D., and representatives from government and private partners. Speaking to the large crowd that included SLUCare physicians and staff, SLU students, administrators, faculty, and professionals, SSM Health employees, and special guests, Pestello spoke of the new $550 million hospital and ambulatory care center as a key investment in securing SLU’s legacy as a Catholic, Jesuit, research university located in the heart of the revitalization of the St. Louis region.

“It’s an affirmation of our united commitment to investing in our community,” Pestello said.

In opening the Aug. 31 festivities with prayer, Richard Buhler, S.J., reminded those assembled that “we stand at a sacred intersection where science and technology meet grace and humanity.”

“As we bless this ground,” Buhler continued, “we set it apart for the special purpose of healing body, mind and spirit.”

This holistic approach to patient-centered care, Robert M. Heaney, M.D., SLUCare Physician Group CEO, said, was central not only to the design of the new hospital, but also to reaffirming SLU’s partnership with SSM Health St. Louis, a commitment that has endured more than a century.

“Saint Louis University, SLUCare Physician Group and SSM Health St. Louis built upon their expanded partnership by collaborating closely in planning the new facilities, united by their shared goal of providing patients with the best possible healing environment,” Heaney said. “Hundreds have provided invaluable input and we feel energized to see tangible evidence of our planning efforts.”

Fred P. Pestello and other dignitaries break ground on the new hospital.

University President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D. joined other dignitaries to break ground on the new SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital. Photo by Amelia Flood

The new hospital features more than 800,000 square feet of space, 316 private patient rooms, an expanded Level 1 trauma center and emergency department, larger intensive care units, increased parking for patients and healing gardens and green space. The new hospital site also includes areas for future expansion to meet patient, physician and student needs.

“The new SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital and ambulatory care facility will enhance the educational experience for tomorrow’s health care providers who are drawn to Saint Louis University by our mission,” Kevin Behrns, M.D., vice president for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, said. “Further, the facilities will expand opportunities for research that will lead to breakthrough discoveries to benefit all of humanity.”

Following a blessing by Rivituso, the SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital Joyful Choir got the audience clapping and singing along to “Oh, Happy Day.”

“We’re excited to begin this new era in health care between SSM Health and SLUCare,” Becker said. “We are stronger together.”

She then joined Pestello and the other assembled dignitaries to turn over the first ceremonial shovelful of dirt to kick off the hospital’s construction. Guests then mingled and enjoyed slices of cake from the 450 pound edible replica of the new hospital and took virtual tours of the new facility.

The new SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital is set to welcome its first patient on Sept. 1, 2020 after construction concludes. The new hospital will occupy 15 acres adjacent to the current facility off Grand Boulevard between Rutger and Lasalle streets. The project is expected to total more than 2.2 million workforce construction hours and a peak workforce team of more than 600.

The new hospital will focus on high-acuity patients, cardiovascular care, oncology, stroke, transplant and trauma.

SSM Health assumed ownership of the hospital on Sept. 1, 2015. The health system’s partnership with Saint Louis University dates to 1903 and has continued into the present.

Saint Louis University is a world-class Catholic, Jesuit institution educating nearly 13,000 students on two dynamic, urban campuses - in St. Louis, Missouri, and Madrid, Spain. Founded in 1818, the University will soon celebrate its bicentennial.

With a legacy of innovative academics and research, compassionate health care and faithful service, Saint Louis University attracts a diverse community of scholars who push intellectual boundaries in pursuit of creative, meaningful ways to impact the world, striving to serve a higher purpose and seek a greater good.