East Cooper Medical adding office building

Tenet Healthcare moved out of its longstanding Mount Pleasant hospital to the newly built East Cooper Medical Center in 2010.

East Cooper Medical Center is investing about $11 million to add a standalone office building on its property, a project that was sidetracked for several years by the last economic downturn.

Officials from the Mount Pleasant hospital and the town broke ground Tuesday on a 42,000-square-foot structure that will house practices focused on women’s services and orthopedics. Other tenants in the two-story building will include physical therapists and a lab.

“It’s the next step,” said Danny Mullis, board chairman of East Cooper Medical.

All but a sliver of the future office space has been preleased, said Jason Alexander, who’s been CEO of the hospital for about two years.

“The thought was, we want to get our physicians on our campus,” Alexander said.

The one-stop approach will allow more doctors to check on admitted patients without having to drive, he said. Also, it will be a convenience for outpatient visitors who need hospital services, he added.

Most of the tenants who will be moving into the building next fall now lease space around East Cooper Medical’s former location near Bowman Road and U.S. Highway 17.

Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare is the hospital’s for-profit owner. It invested $153 million to build the new 130-bed medical center, which opened three years ago and is Mount Pleasant’s largest employer.

Tenet’s 55-acre campus fronts Interstate 526, near Mathis Ferry and Vol Kolnitz roads.

The medical office building has been studied for about five years, Alexander said.

The recession disrupted the expansion and forced Tenet to rethink and adjust the size of the project as market conditions changed, he said.

The hospital’s property has enough landto add more office space as needed, Alexander said.

Contact John McDermott at 937-5572