With occupancy at Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa increasing at a higher rate than the average for Milwaukee-area hospitals the past year, the hospital proposes a $43 million addition to its Center for Advanced Care that would add four stories to an eight-story structure that opened in October 2015.
Froedtert Hospital’s occupancy rate is among the highest in the state, averaging over 85 percent annually, spokeswoman Nalissa Wienke said Tuesday in response to questions from the Milwaukee Business Journal. Increased inpatient activity has led Froedtert executives to address the ongoing need for increased capacity, she said.
“As eastern Wisconsin’s only academic medical center, Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin's Froedtert Hospital continues to experience strong demand for inpatient services,” Wienke said.
In fact, Froedtert Hospital saw an increase of 5 percent in its medical-surgical admissions in 2016, a 7.6 percent increase in obstetrics and an 8.6 percent hike in other hospital services, according to information filed with the Wisconsin Hospital Association. Patients visiting Froedtert’s emergency department increased by 8.7 percent in 2016, and some of those patients are admitted for the inpatient area.
Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin submitted plans to the Wauwatosa Design Review Board for a two-year project that would start this spring and add 165,000 square feet, Wienke said. The project would be financed through a bond issue, she said.
The proposal is on the agenda for the Design Review Board's Thursday meeting.
Froedtert Hospital has reached out to a wider geographic market in recent years by expanding its clinic footprint throughout the metro area via its partnership with the Medical College of Wisconsin. Froedtert Health executive vice president and chief financial officer Scott Hawig said in a December 2016 interview with the Milwaukee Business Journal that the system had logged four consecutive years of market-share growth.
The biggest driver of the higher volumes was patients covered by Medicare while the volume of uninsured patients was up significantly, Hawig said. One driver of higher numbers at Froedtert Hospital’s emergency department is its status as the region’s Level I Trauma Center, spokeswoman Kathy Sieja said in early January.
The Center for Advance Care cost about $140 million to build and the structure was designed with the capacity to expand vertically by another four floors.
For example, mechanical functions that typically would be located on the roof are on the ground floor, thus making a vertical addition much more feasible and less costly, John Balzer, vice president of planning and development for Froedtert Health, told the Milwaukee Business Journal in a March 2016 interview. The facility features stronger foundations and support steel to accommodate additional floors, Balzer said.
Adding another four floors would represent the second expansion from the original plan for the latest structure on Froedtert Hospital’s Wauwatosa campus. In April 2014, Froedtert Health officials, citing the need for increased capacity, announced before construction started to increase by three stories their original September 2012 plan.
Froedtert Hospital had 516 beds staffed and set up, according to the Guide to Wisconsin Hospitals for 2015. The hospital had 3,778 full-time and 1,771 part-time employees in 2015. Total revenue was $1.33 billion and net income was $119 million.
Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center currently is the largest hospital in metro Milwaukee with 732 beds as of 2015 and $1.26 billion in total revenue.
Froedtert Hospital is the flagship hospital of Froedtert Health, which has its offices on the same Wauwatosa campus.