Catholic Health Initiatives broke ground today for St. Vincent West, a $30 million health campus to serve west Little Rock.
Phase 1, to be completed in September, will have physician offices, an urgent-care center and expansion of the Longevity Center at St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center.
The new campus will be built on a 37-acre site west of Chenal Parkway, beside The Promenade at Chenal commercial district.
Catholic Health Initiatives executive Mike Rowan speaks during groundbreaking Friday for the St. Vincent West campus as (from left) Monsignor Francis Malone, Little Rock City Director Lance Hines and St. Vincent President and CEO Peter Banko look on. (Lewis Delavan photo)
Phase 2 will include construction of out-patient surgery, diagnostic imaging and specialty physician offices. Its construction will start later this year.
U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, said the campus will boost Little Rock both in medical care and economically.
"It will be a major addition to health care west of I-430," Griffin told about 100 people attending the ceremony. "Just as importantly, it will create a lot of new jobs. This is the perfect example of the job creation we need, not only in Arkansas, but across the country."
St. Vincent Vice President John Timmis said the number of jobs created will be contingent on the number and specialties of physicians and other health care providers who choose to practice at the facility.
Also, the expansion also will spur job growth in related businesses that locate near the new campus, such as restaurants, banks and other entities, Timmis said.
Monsignor Francis Malone, pastor of Christ the King Catholic Church and chancellor of the local Catholic diocese, said providing health care is an important mission of the Christian church. He blessed the ceremony with holy water.
Dave Parker, St. Vincent board chairman, said the west campus has been a long-term vision of the health system. The campus continues a mission that was begun 133 years ago by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, he said.
"In 1954, the Sisters made a very bold move to relocate St. Vincent Infirmary to University and Markham," he said.
Naysayers then questioned the need for the move, and later questioned the need for expansion to the Chenal neighborhood, he said.
"Today, we are following in their footsteps to nurture the healing ministry of Jesus by going where there are community needs and building a permanent home there," he said. "We will continue to deliver on our promise of caring for people."
Combined with the $47 million renovation of St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center in 2007, the new campus raises St. Vincent's investment in Little Rock to $77 million in the past five years, said Peter Banko, the hospital's president and CEO.
"We hope our commitment will spur further growth and expansion to create jobs and enhance the economy of our community," Banko said.