After years of construction, the $300 million addition and renovation project at Carolinas Medical Center-Pineville that has doubled the hospital's square footage and nearly tripled its staff is almost finished.
Once a community hospital, CMC-Pineville has been the largest expansion project in the history of Carolinas HealthCare System - one of the largest hospital systems in the nation.
In sheer size alone, the complex has grown from 220,000 to 515,000 square feet.
The new facilities in Pineville offer more space, beds, specialists and more comprehensive services, fitting in with CHS's long-term vision for the suburbs: to offer advanced care outside the center city.
"We've got to decompress CMC to be able to take care of those high-level cases," said CMC-Pineville President Chris Hummer. "There were a lot of people who could have been seen here who were going downtown."
Phase one of the expansion project was mostly completed in 2011 and included:
a new medical office building, a central energy plant and a parking deck.
new and expanded space for the front lobby and waiting areas.
a larger, renovated Emergency Department, with 10 treatments rooms and a children's waiting area.
The new CMC-Pineville facilities were also designed to begin offering complex, tertiary care, such as open-heart surgery and oncology services.
To do so, they built new offices for the Blumenthal Cancer Center, Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute, Charlotte Medical Clinic and Mecklenburg Medical Group.
Phase two of the expansion project is being unveiled as completed over the next few months.
Already finished is the new six-story patient bed tower that has increased the number of beds from 120 to 206. The expanded intensive-care unit used to have only five beds. It will have 30 beds by mid-April.
Also completed is the renovated and expanded maternity center with Mecklenburg County's only Level III Neonatal Care Unit with private rooms. With sliding walls dividing the rooms, a parent who has twins can easily spend time with both babies by getting rid of the barrier.
The new laboratory has grown from a cluster of counters to a sprawling room lined with sophisticated technology.
The halls of the hospital are lined with large windows and adorned with artwork from students and professional artists in the Carolinas.
The old 43-person-capacty cafeteria was also replaced with one that will hold 250 people and an additional 80 on the sunny patio.
But the patient and staff favorite is the new Caribou Coffee on campus, said Cheryl Atkinson, vice president of operations at CMC-Pineville.
In terms of expectations, "these days, people compare hospitals to hotels," said Atkinson.
The expansion has also spurred a flurry of hiring.
When Hummer took his post with CMC-Pineville in 2006, the hospital had 535 employees.
Now, the hospital has about 1,200 employees, and Hummer anticipates they'll hire another 100 in the next year and a half.
A few additional projects will still be outstanding, including an expanded lobby with workstations and free Wi-Fi, an expanded waiting area for family of surgical patients and an enclosed breezeway from the parking garage to the hospital.
A new inpatient dialysis will open later this month, and construction on the open-heart surgery services will begin in the second quarter.
Says CHS Marketing Director Phil Whitesell, "People who haven't seen (CMC)-Pineville in a while are going to be absolutely astounded."