By Brandon Moseley

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) was in Homewood on Wednesday to attend the groundbreaking event for Brookwood Baptist Medical Center’s new operating room complex. The $30 million, 18,922-square-foot building will replace the hospital’s current operating rooms (OR) with 13 new OR suites.

Brookwood CEO Jeremy Clark explained that the new suites will be larger and more technologically advanced, allowing for a broader range of specialty surgeries to be performed at the hospital.

“Our hospitals play a major role in protecting public health,” Gov. Ivey said. “It is important to continue to invest in our hospital facilities.”

“I’m so proud to see that Brookwood Medical Center continues to make investments in their facility, elevating their standard of care a top priority,” said Governor Ivey.

Clark said the OR rooms are going to be larger than existing ORs,” Clark said. “This will allow us to serve patients in a way that we are not currently able and will allow a continued growth.”

Dr. Thomas Powell is an orthopedic surgeon with Brookwood. He currently serves on the Board of Governors at Brookwood Medical Center and on the AO/ASIF orthopedic faculty.

Powell said that the new operating suites show a vision that he did not always see in his 26 years with the hospital.

“The pace of medicine is advancing rapidly, if you don’t move ahead and if you don’t adapt then you get left behind,” Powell said. “Rebuilding the operating rooms is just putting us out in the forefront of leading health care.”

Powell explained that the modern operating room is packed with more technology than the operating rooms of the past and that technology takes up space.

“We have four of the XI robots,” Powell said. “They take up a lot of room but they add a lot of precision.”

Former State Rep. Paul DeMarco (R-Homewood) is the Chairman of the Board for Brookwood Hospital.

“People are so grateful that it shows a commitment to the doctors and staff.” DeMarco said. “It is also important to the patients.”

“This project kicks off our master plan to provide significant additional investment in our hospital’s outstanding surgery program to help take it to even higher levels of clinical excellence,” said Clark in a statement. “Healthcare never stands still. As medical technology advances, the need for operating rooms to accommodate it has become more and more critical. When completed, these suites will be the newest in the Birmingham area and will help further our commitment to be the hospital of choice in our community – for both patients and surgeons.”

“This investment will have a tremendous impact on the city of Birmingham and surrounding communities,” Clark continued. “The new, larger, more technologically advanced OR suites will allow us to accommodate surgeons as they take on more specialized surgeries, including advanced cardiac and vascular procedures and robotic-assisted minimally invasive surgeries. This is an exciting time for Brookwood Baptist Medical Center.”

1819 News asked Clark about the Biden Administration mandate that all employees of healthcare providers that receive Medicare and Medicaid money have all of their staff vaccinated for COVID-19, or they will be fired. As a result of this mandate, he was asked if he was concerned that he could face a shortage of skilled personnel.

“We are strongly encouraging all of our employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” Clark said. “We are continuing to review both the federal rules as well as the state laws.”

Ivey said that the state has had some early success this weekend in pushing back against the mandate.

“I am going to keep fighting this every step of the way,” Ivey said.

On Saturday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans placed a temporary injunction on the Occupation Safety and Health Administration's order that every employer, with over 100 employees, mandate the vaccine.

The project is expected to be completed in early 2023. Three of the current operating rooms will be renovated as part of this process. The other old ORs will be converted to additional space for recuperation and recovery post-surgery.

Brookwood Baptist received Certificate of Need approval in September from the Alabama State Certificate of Need Review Board. Robins & Morton Corporation is serving as the general contractor on the project, and Evan Terry Associates, LLC is providing the architectural services.

The Alabama legislature recently appropriated an additional $40 million in aid to Alabama hospitals during the second special session this year.