SLU’s new hospital breaks ground


Nadia Sirajuddin

Hospital stakeholders celebrate the construction with ceremonial scoops of dirt.

At 10 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 31, hundreds of people from the St. Louis community gathered together in large white tents to enjoy the groundbreaking ceremony for the new SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital. Medical students clad in navy blue scrubs poured out from the shuttle buses to see the beginning of the hospital that would see its first patients in September 2020. With guests like US congressmen, senators of Missouri, and the Saint Louis mayor, Lyda Krewson, it was clear to see the new hospital’s impact was for more than just the medical students.

Fred Pestello, president of Saint Louis University, reminded the audience of the mission of Saint Louis University and SSM Health. Over thirty-five years ago, Saint Louis University had the choice to change the location of its hospital. However, the decision was to stay in the heart of the city, because that is where the hospital was most needed. Our mission is to serve our community. “All we do, we must do for a purpose beyond ourselves,” Pestello said to the audience.

More than 300 individuals contributed to the planning and designing of the new hospital. From renting rooms to care for patients in the fall of 1818 to building a new hospital with more than 800,000 square feet of space, SLUCare has had significant growth. The $550 million project features 316 private patient rooms, an expanded Level I trauma center and emergency department, larger intensive care units, expanded patient parking, green space and areas for future campus expansion. Dr. Kevin Behrns, M.D., Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine, believes what makes this hospital great for students and residents is its unique team-oriented design. The hospital will be able to closely collaborate with the Nursing School and Allied Health, making it ideal for academics.

The SSM Saint Louis University Hospital Joyful Choir sang “Oh Happy Day” to celebrate the step forward, and indeed it was a happy day of celebration. The Alberici Foundation gifted the SSM Saint Louis University Hospital a challenge grant of $2.5 million. Before and after the ceremony, guests were able to go on virtual tours of the new hospital via handheld tablets. Along with delicious hors d’oeuvres, the guests were also able to enjoy an enormous cake baked in the shape of the new hospital, complete with helipad. The ceremony concluded with leaders of the community putting on white hard construction hats, grabbing a shovel and lifting dirt to mark the start to a new era of healthcare centered on patient care and the healing of mind, body and spirit.