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Courtesy of Penn Medicine

Penn's "largest capital project" ever has just been unveiled. 

On Wednesday, Penn leaders and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney announced plans to build a $1.5 billion Hospital Pavilion at the Henry A. Jordan M’62 Medical Education Center.

The project aims to house inpatient care for heart and vascular medicine and surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, the Abramson Cancer Center and a new emergency department. This is Philadelphia's most "ambitious health care building project," Penn Medicine wrote in a statement.

Construction on the Pavilion is expected to be completed by 2021. 

Penn Medicine Senior Vice President for Public Affairs Susan Phillips wrote in an emailed statement that the Pavilion is being built with the intention to adapt to changes in health care delivery in the future.

“Each of the hospital’s 500 private patient rooms will be designed in a way that will enable them to be converted to different kinds of units as patient care needs change,” Phillips said. “For instance, more intensive care units, if needed – and hybrid operating rooms/intervention suites that will allow physicians to deliver care using new surgical techniques or imaging technologies that will be developed in the coming decades.”

Despite the large funds spent on this project, Nursing graduate student Andrew Dierkes did not see this as a particularly special decision taken by Penn administration.

“I see this in the context of other expansions, and in a way it kind of pales in comparison to more recent acquisitions by Penn,” Dierkes said. “It doesn’t strike me as radical a move in a way.”

The construction of the Pavilion follows a trend of expansion in Penn Medicine. In 2015, Penn Medicine acquired a system of three hospitals worth $1 billion. More recently, Penn Medicine partnered with the Princeton HealthCare System in March as part of a national movement towards incorporating smaller hospitals into larger health systems. 

Philipps said the investment in the new Pavilion was justified given the importance of Penn’s involvement in the Philadelphia health care community.

“Penn Medicine’s hospitals are an important cornerstone of our far-reaching benefits to people living in the Philadelphia region and beyond,” Philipps said. “The Pavilion will further cement our reputation as a driver of innovation in clinical care and the biomedical sciences.”

In a press release from Penn Medicine, Penn President Amy Gutmann said the new building will aim to set a new standard for national health care. 

“Penn is proud to be the preeminent health system in the Philadelphia region. This building will be transformational, serving as the flagship facility for Penn Medicine and setting a new standard for modern health care delivery across the nation,” Gutmann said. “This is the hospital that will define America’s best medicine for generations to come.”

Dierkes questioned the role the nursing department played in the decision to build the Pavilion.

“I am kind of curious whether whenever they design a new inpatient unit like this, whether they’ve involved nurses in the design process,” Dierkes said. “Often times, doctors will automatically be involved in these decisions, but in reality, they’re in and out of the room really quickly and the nurses end up doing most of the work there with actual hands-on patient care, and I don’t know if they’re always included in the design.”

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