Thursday, December 17, 2015
MUSC, Roper Hospital and Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center work together to create Medical District
to see how project will reinvigorate downtown healthcare landscape
The city of Charleston has granted the Medical University of South Carolina, Roper Hospital and Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center permission to create a downtown Medical District that would transform its existing properties into a healthy space for the benefit of patients and the entire community.
The project will offer more green space, enhance pedestrian access and safety, provide additional parking, improve signage, and make it easier to enter and leave those hospitals for the 30,000 people who do so daily.
“Ultimately, this initiative is about not only healing the body but healing the soul,” said MUSC President David Cole, M.D. “Patients and family members so often say ‘thank you’ for not only the care provided but also the opportunity to walk into a garden or to have a place outside to rest. We are a place of health, healing and education. It’s important that we offer a place to gather and connect with the community.”
Momentum for creating a Medical District started in January when Cole called Roper St. Francis President and Chief Executive Officer David Dunlap, and the two met to discuss a proposed parking garage for Roper St. Francis teammates. The result was an agreement that allowed Roper Hospital to continue leasing parking spaces in MUSC garages while both hospitals collaborated with the city of Charleston on creating a Medical District that everyone could enjoy.
“The most valuable assets in the Medical District are not the bricks and mortar but rather the dedicated healthcare professionals who work here 24 hours a day. This pedestrian mall will provide them, and all of our patients and visitors, a great venue to walk across our campuses and enjoy the beauty of this area.” Dunlap said. “We expect this Medical District to become another iconic Charleston landmark and an incredible addition to the many reasons why Charleston is a world-class city.”
Initial plans for the Medical District include:
• Developing a pedestrian-oriented greenway that links the eastern and western parts of the peninsula
• Better managing Courtenay Drive traffic to improve conditions for pedestrians
• Building a garage at Courtenay Drive and Bee Street for parking
• Connecting West Edge to Colonial Lake to link the upper west side of the peninsula with the lower part.
The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center joined with MUSC and Roper Hospital in support of the Medical District with a goal of improving pedestrian traffic options among medical community partners.
“Here in the medical district, we truly are next door neighbors and we work hand-in-hand – a fact that creates a lot of synergy and opportunity for collaboration in providing the highest quality care, in research, and in teaching and training future generations of health care professionals,” said Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center Director Scott R. Isaacks. “We have a significant number of medical staff who hold appointments at the VA, MUSC and Roper, and walk between our facilities multiple times every day. We also have veterans who go to MUSC and Roper for certain appointments, so it is natural that our VA would be interested in improving the environment in this area.”
MUSC, Roper Hospital and the Ralph H. Johnson VA submitted last month a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to the city of Charleston requesting city officials’ endorsement of the project. The MOU set up the initial framework for future development. City Council voted to support the proposed Medical District MOU on Tuesday during Mayor Joe Riley’s final public meeting as mayor.