After 30 seconds of discussion during a Board of Trustees meeting Friday morning, the Medical University of South Carolina agreed to move forward with plans to build a new $325 million hospital somewhere in the tri-county area.
Hospital leaders have not been specific about where it might be built, but if approved, it would rival the cost of the new MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital.
No board members asked questions or commented on the 128-bed project before unanimously agreeing to move forward Friday.
The board's approval is a preliminary step that allows MUSC staff to apply for a Certificate of Need, which hospitals must obtain through the state Department of Health and Environmental Control before adding beds, buying any pricey equipment or building facilities.
"The state health plan has clearly identified that MUSC has a need for 147 additional beds to serve the Charleston area based on current hospital occupancy and fill rates," Dr. Patrick Cawley, the CEO of Medical University Hospital, said in a statement.
"This new hospital will serve to meet many of those growing health care demands, delivering our consistent, high quality and compassionate care."
The board also gave hospital leaders permission Friday to seek approval from the State Fiscal Accountability Authority to spend $10 million on land for the project.
MUSC attorney Annette Drachman confirmed through a spokeswoman the Board of Trustees discussed contract negotiations related to the project during a closed-door session Thursday. The confidentiality of those contract negotiations is protected under state law.
Heather Woolwine, an MUSC spokeswoman, said there would be no other details available Friday about where the hospital will be located or what services it will provide.
Leaders at MUSC's biggest competitors, Trident Health and Roper St. Francis, each said they didn't have enough information to react to the news.
"It’s hard to speculate after a 30-second discussion," said Trident Health CEO Todd Gallati.
Andy Lyons, spokesman for Roper St. Francis, declined comment.
The MUSC Board of Trustees also found out this week that the new MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital, set for completion in March 2019, is expected to cost about $389.1 million, up $4.1 million from the previous estimate. It's under construction at Calhoun Street and Courtenay Drive.
Other local hospital systems are working on their own projects.
Trident Health has six expansion projects underway, Gallati said. The company has invested $75 million in expansion projects at Trident Medical Center and Summerville Medical Center. Three others are still in the Certificate of Need process.
Trident Health recently filed an application that proposes to build a hospital adjacent to the existing Moncks Corner Medical Center. Trident Health leaders say the only work planned at this time on the site is drainage improvements.
Meanwhile, Roper St. Francis is constructing 50-bed, $113 million hospital at Carnes Crossroads, and Trident Health recently filed an application that proposes to build a hospital adjacent to the existing Moncks Corner Medical Center. Trident Health leaders say the only work planned at this time on the site is drainage improvements.