Inside the Charlotte region’s billion-dollar hospital building boom

CHARLOTTE — Charlotte’s major health-care systems are matching the region’s population boom with a building boom of their own — investing more than $1 billion into new hospitals to bring higher-level care closer to where their patients live. Hospitals are going up at an unprecedented pace here — with construction on multiple projects happening all at once.

Local providers are also meeting increased demand with extensive renovations and sweeping modernization projects. However, new hospitals are foundational to the expansion of care. Much of the population growth in metro areas is happening on the periphery, said Steve Lawler, CEO of the North Carolina Healthcare Association.

“We’re seeing the definition of city center change,” Lawler said. “We continue to see … double-digit increases over the past decade in regards to the number of people that are choosing to relocate, number of companies that are coming into North Carolina.”

One example is Atrium Health’s more than $151 million Union West. That 150,000-square-foot hospital is on track to open in February at U.S. Highway 74 and Stallings Road in Matthews. It will have 40 acute-care beds, a 10-bay emergency department and three operating rooms.

It will be Atrium’s first greenfield hospital project to open in decades.

Building a hospital is a multiyear feat. New projects are designed to accommodate the inevitable future expansions. Health systems must receive certificate-of-need approval before construction can begin. That process alone can take several months to years.

“Even with all things impacting our economic environment like COVID, the Charlotte region growing … truly requires us to be on top of that,” said Ken Haynes, president of the greater Charlotte region at Atrium Health. “We’ve never been able to catch up with the growth, to be perfectly honest with you.”

Read more here.

(WATCH BELOW: Atrium reschedules wellness programs to make room for patients in need of immediate care)