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Posted on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

University of Michigan Health System in 'growth mode'

By Kellie Woodhouse

Thumbnail image for Mott_Hospital_view4.JPG

A view from University of Michigan's new C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital.

Patient capacity at the University of Michigan Health System has grown nearly 19 percent in five years, and university officials said Thursday there are no plans to slow growth anytime soon.

"We are in a growth mode," said Thomas Peterson, UMHS associate director of operations.

"Our demands continue to exceed the number of beds that we have," Peterson added in an interview. "We're consistently at capacity."

The number of UMHS patient beds has grown from 848 five years ago to 1,009 today, and officials plan to add another 120 beds within the next two years as it renovates the old C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital facility.


University of Michigan Health System is planning a $163 million renovation of the old C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital facility.

Melanie Maxwell |

Compounding overall UMHS growth is the increase in hospital staff, which has risen 9.4 percent in the last four years. Today there are roughly 21,000 UMHS employees.

"That’s pretty significant employment growth," Peterson said. He discussed health system growth during a meeting with Wall Street corridor residents on Thursday evening.

Over the past decade UMHS has added 18 operating rooms —and plans to add another eight operating rooms during the former Mott facility renovation— and seven MRI devices. Last year UMHS opened a $754 million, 1.1 million square foot facility for its children's and women's hospitals, adding nearly 150 beds, and finished a $17.7 million emergency department expansion, adding 27 new patient rooms.

"The demands of the emergency department just surpassed our size," Peterson said. "Many patients were being treated in a hallway with just a curtain closed off for privacy."

UMHS also opened new surgical and medical observation units within the past five years.

The upcoming $163 million renovation of the old Mott facility includes 120 private rooms, mostly for use in neuroscience units, and office space for hospital staff. Peterson foresees "hundreds" of new UMHS positions as a result of the expansion. When the new Mott facility opened, more than 500 positions were created.


The new $754 million C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital facility opened in December.

Joseph Tobianski |

"Think of it as building a small hospital," Peterson said.

In spite of the upcoming renovation, UMHS capacity shortages will not immediately be fully satiated.

"There is continuing demand for our hospital facilities: Mostly for extremely complicated acute care patients," said UMHS CEO Ora Pescovitz at a recent Board of Regents meeting.

Peterson said the Mott renovation merely "bridges" the next phase of UMHS development. University Hospital, for example, is "already getting to the point" of becoming outdated. Peterson said it's likely University Hospital will be completely moved into a new facility within the next "10 to 20 years."

"Within a decade we'll have to be doing something," he said.

Meanwhile, U-M Community Relations Director Jim Kosteva said the UMHS master plan calls for for between 700,000 and 900,000 square feet of "clinical research" development in the Wall Street corridor and two parking garages.

The university is in the planning stages of building a hotly contested 700-space parking structure on Wall Street. The Kellogg Eye Center, located on Wall Street, is roughly 230,000 square feet. UMHS doesn't currently have any other large buildings in that corridor. Expansion into the Wall Street corridor has been "part of the university's plan since 1988," Kosteva said.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 9:01 p.m.

Isn't the U of M Health Center always in growth mode? I don't remember a time when they weren't building, or re-modeling. Is the population growing significantly in the area, or are they trying to become Sloan-Kettering of the Midwest. And parking? I'm not even going there? WILL this improve patient care? Is the U of M considering the health needs of the immediate community? Currently, there are 20 psychiatric beds in the entire U of M system. This results in patients being sent to hospitals as far away as Detroit and Grand Rapids. They are sending patients to a clinic called BCA on Gratiot, which is nothing more than a detention center. One nurse and one tech for 19 patients. It is a dangerous place, with fist fights breaking out, surly nurses, and absolutely no psychiatric programs. It makes "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's nest" look fun....and clean. I know this because I was sent there for sleep walking. I have PTSD, and I was on a unit with 18 men. I was the only woman. I understand the UM has remodeled the Psych unit, but, from what I have heard, patient care has not improved. This is unconscionable.

E Claire

Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 6:48 p.m.

Nice that they can spend all this money when they just closed their Nurse Managed Clinics that served the poor and uninsured. Thankfully St. Joe's Packard Health Centers are expanding to help those that UofM can't be bothered with.

Dog Guy

Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 5:19 p.m.

A more appropriate headline for this and the Wall Street parking structure: U of M Health Center Metastasizing.

Michigan Man

Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 4:39 p.m.

St. Joe man here! I worked at Catherine McAuley Health Center, my father was a long time physician at St. Joe, my mother was President of the Auxillary back in the 1960's my wife worked at St. Joe, my older sister worked at St. Joe and my older brother also worked at St. Joe - do not think I forgot anybody. Anyway, delighted to read the UM health system is doing well, growing, prospering and bringing world class healthcare to Ann Arbor. Healthcare competition is a good thing. Congratulations to the UM health system team - all workers - top to bottom - for all of the fine healthcare work you do! Still a St. Joe man though!


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 2:44 p.m.

As an employee I am excited to hear about expansion because we never have beds for patients. My concern would be because of all this expansion will I as a employee still get my equity raise in September? I know the senior management teams are going to be fine because they make six figures but I think sometimes they don't think about the person making 23,000 and could really use that raise. Just my opinion.


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

Please please please U of M: get some more resident slots to accommodate the higher patient load. Residents at the U of M are under tremendous pressure with the increased load as there has been no commensurate increase in residents (who do the bulk of the patient care). It's not fair, it's not safe, and some of what is going on (re resident hours) is not even legal.


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

Sorry, didn't mean to include nurses in the "bulk of physician care" remark. Nurses of course do the bulk of patient care; residents do the bulk of physician-performed patient care. I'd be interested in the nursing data as well: has the number of nurses kept pace with the number of patients and beds?


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 2:25 p.m.

I am appalled (but not surprised) to read all of the negative comments about UM's planned growth. We should be proud to have a world-class facility which does such good in our area. I am proud of the work (in clinical care, research, training of new clinicians and researchers, community good) this fine institution does.


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 4:59 p.m.

Gaboo, You beat m to this particular punch. The nation and especially those of us living in this region are fortunate to have such world class health care available. The UMH system has saved thousands of lives and made the lives of millions more much better.

Michigan Man

Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 4:43 p.m.

Gaboo - I am with you! I am a St. Joe man through and through. Do not let these unhappy, whining, envious and pissed off about something responders bring you down about the fine healthcare work being done daily and for decades at the U of M health system. I no longer live in Ann Arbor and I am proud of the U of M health system and really like reading things about their accomplishments, breakthroughs, compassion and overall caring. Hold your head high!

Ron Granger

Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 2:07 p.m.

Sometimes I wonder if all this stem cell research, health research, and changes to term limits are specifically intended to keep Mary Sue Coleman UM's president in perpetuity.

Tom Whitaker

Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

@Kara Gavin: Is there anything in any of the plans for massive UMHS growth about building employee housing close to the medical center? (Or maybe at least a policy to stop tearing down the housing that already exists?) Clearly this amount of growth cannot be sustained simply by building parking structures and expecting employees to find their way to work somehow. Even if a commuter train eventually comes to fruition, this will only help those living within a reasonable distance of the other stations along the east/west track. Has anyone at UM ever done a GIS study of current UMHS employee addresses to map where they live? UM has historically avoided getting into the staff housing business, but clearly, now is the time to start giving the idea a new look, along with other ideas like dedicated commuter buses to satellite communities.

Dog Guy

Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 1:50 p.m.

Remarkable advertising! Da dum dum dum dum dum dum.

Kara Gavin

Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 12:37 p.m.

For more information on the recently approved project to re-use (not tear down) the former Mott/Women's hospital complex, and the growth in patient care demand that UMHS has been experiencing as more patients from around the state, nation and world seek our care, please see Kara Gavin UMHS Public Relations


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 12:12 p.m.

Someone pays for all this construction. Who? Medicare, Medicaid, higher insurance premiums? Is there an increase in the amount of medical care need in our area or are we just competing with other area hospitals for existing business? The population of southeastern Michigan has been declining so it can't be about population growth. Where is this new University Hospital going to go? Are they going to knock down a perfectly good existing hospital? Are they going to build even more densely without solving the existing parking problems. Will employees, patient or community members have any input into these building plans. They did not have any input into Mott's Hospital and they are already spending millions on renovations to fix problems in the new Mott Hospital. This is why everthing from the national debt to tuition is increasing. We just spend more and more on things that are paid for by government and citizens because the University knows someone else will pay them to do it.


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 6:01 p.m.

Hospitals are Big Business as you know. All the heart wrenching commercials in the world can be bought by U of M but underneath it all they are a Big Business. They compete hard for patient counts, research dollars and our tax dollars. They are in the position to decide how much money they want their customers to pay them and how often. They decide whether you need that new drug or procedure or test. Anyone who thinks otherwise is living in la-la land.


Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

Well, the Hospital just slashed the Nurses's benefits last year (an RN, average salary around $55,000, who covers their spouse or partner and children will now pay $1,000 more a year - aka a mortgage payment), so it looks like UMHS is putting some of the costs on the backs of their middle class employees.