House approves $50 million for new MUSC hospital

The final design for the new MUSC women’s and children’s hospital hasn’t been approved, but the building, pictured here, will mimic the look of the Ashley River Tower, located next door.

The S.C. House’s budget-writing Ways and Means committee approved $50 million on Thursday to help pay for a new women’s and children’s hospital at the Medical University of South Carolina.

The Charleston hospital, which is scheduled to be completed in 2019, is expected to cost $350 million.

MUSC plans to raise the rest of the funds through private donations and other methods but wanted the $50 million from the state to break ground, said Rep. Murrell Smith, R-Sumter, a Ways and Means member who chairs a key healthcare subcommittee.

Smith said he toured the current, outdated children’s facilities recently and came away understanding the project’s necessity. He said the new hospital would improve healthcare for children across the state.

“We recognized the value in a children’s hospital in South Carolina — they provide the higher acuity care for some of the sickest children in the state,” Smith said. “You think of the medical technology between the late 1980s and 2015 — it’s come ahead light years from where it was back then.”

The majority of the new hospital will be financed with federal loans through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Final approval for the federal loans is expected this fall, MUSC President David Cole said. The state allocation demonstrates to federal lenders that the hospital has sufficient cash and support for the building, he said.

“We were hopeful there would be (state) support,” Cole said. “We’re very pleased.”

The $50 million allocation in the state’s bond bill must be approved by the full General Assembly.

MUSC has raised about $14 million in private donations so far for its new hospital.