Sentara Norfolk General Hospital is launching a five-year expansion and modernization project to bring facilities up to modern standards and enhance the reputation as a mid-Atlantic referral center.

Expansion announced for Sentara Norfolk General Hospital

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Sentara Norfolk General Hospital is launching a five-year expansion and modernization project to bring facilities up to modern standards and enhance the 525-bed hospital’s reputation as a mid-Atlantic referral center. The $199 million project will add three floors each to two existing wings, expand the emergency department, expand and modernize 18 operating rooms, replace a 48-bed ward-style Special Care Nursery with a state-of-the-art unit and consolidate the hospital’s 54 ICU beds on two floors. Sentara Norfolk General is a destination medical center for the most complex patients, home to Hampton Roads’ only Level I Trauma Center and the primary teaching hospital for Eastern Virginia Medical School.

"We are proud to provide world-class care, but our patients and clinicians deserve more modern facilities," said Kurt Hofelich, president of Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. "We are investing in the future to improve the patient experience, prepare for new technologies and bolster our position as a mid-Atlantic referral center."

Patients from 28 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, Canada, Germany and other countries have traveled to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in recent years for cardiac, cancer, neurology and urology care. Sentara Norfolk General Hospital was ranked the #1 hospital in Virginia by U.S. News & World Report in 2013 and 2014.

Sentara Heart Hospital’s cardiology and heart surgery program has been ranked among the nation’s Top 50 by U.S. News and World Report for 15 years. In 2015, the Ear, Nose and Throat program at Sentara Norfolk General was the only ENT program in Virginia to make the U.S. News Top 50 rankings.

Sentara Norfolk General Hospital includes the region’s only organ transplant program for hearts, kidneys and pancreas. It is home to the Sentara Neurosciences Institute, which includes a Neuromuscular and Autonomic Center with one of only eight thermoregulatory diagnostic sweat chambers in the U.S. The hospital’s Special Care Nursery provides almost 150,000 patient days annually for premature, drug-addicted and other high-risk newborns. It is also home to the only CyberKnife® radiosurgery system in the region and the Sentara Cancer Network, a network of seven Sentara hospitals in Hampton Roads accredited by the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer and the only network-accredited cancer program in Virginia. Sentara Norfolk General also houses the system’s eICU center, the nation’s first (2000) remote real-time monitoring center for 100+ ICU beds across multiple Sentara hospitals.

"This is a big project that will be disruptive and noisy at times, but the long-term benefit will be immense," Hofelich predicted. "Sentara Norfolk General Hospital’s clinical programs and quality outcomes are already on par with the most respected hospitals in the country and our facilities will be on par as well."

Planned improvements include:

  • Three floors added to Kaufman wing (housing new Labor & Delivery and post-partum rooms)
  • 48-bed Special Care Nursery (neonatal intensive care unit) with private and semi-private rooms
  • Three floors added to River Pavilion wing (Top two floors to house 54 consolidated ICU beds)
  • Expansion and modernization of 18 operating rooms (from an average 400 square feet to an average 600 square feet)
  • Expansion and modernization of the Emergency Department and Level I trauma center

Construction is scheduled to commence in March 2016, with a projected completion date in 2020.  The work is expected to affect traffic flow on the bustling campus, which accommodates up to 18,000 cars, trucks, buses and ambulances per day. Eastern Virginia Medical Center, as the campus is known, is also home to Eastern Virginia Medical School and Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters. Tight quarters on the shared campus dictate that expansion goes up, rather than out, hence a total of six new floors on top of two existing wings, which will be accomplished using a million-pound construction crane – 200 feet tall with a 300 foot boom.

"We are in close touch with our campus partners, surrounding neighborhoods and other stakeholders," said Robert Firestone, vice president of operations for Sentara Norfolk General and facility project manager for the expansion. "We are working to ensure timely communication, access to the campus and minimal inconvenience for our outpatients, visitors and EMS partners."

One specific communication will be with medical and military helicopters flying into Sentara Norfolk General, due to the 200 foot-tall crane. Sentara Norfolk General is home base for the Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance and the helipad accommodates up to 1,200 landings per year. Plans call for a helipad on the roof of Kaufman wing with a dedicated elevator to the trauma center in the emergency department.

Sentara Norfolk General Hospital includes several connected buildings of varying ages, ranging from a service wing built in the 1950s to Sentara Heart Hospital, which opened in 2006.

Mindful of the Ghent neighborhood’s tendency to flood, the expansion project includes the latest protective measures against sea level rise in collaboration with the City of Norfolk’s Resiliency initiative. Some of the hospital’s CT scanners and other radiology equipment will be moved to the third floor during construction. All six of the hospital’s emergency generators will be above grade when the project is complete. The modernized Kaufman and River Pavilion towers will include window glass with variable tinting, similar to eyeglass lenses, to conserve energy on air conditioning on hot days.

HDR Architects designed the project. Whiting-Turner is the primary contractor.