On Sunday morning, ambulances lined up on Red River Street adjacent to two hospitals – one old and historic, one new and buzzing with modern medical technology waiting at the ready.
Doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians and other hospital staffers also buzzed with anticipation after more than a year of planning for the transition from University Medical Center Brackenridge to Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas.
After 133 years of treating the injured and sick, UMC Brackenridge closed its doors. Hospital operations and 115 patients were shuttled across 15th Street to the new Dell Seton facility under the watchful eye of 1,500 hospital staffers within just a few hours.
Dell Seton Medical Center will take Brackenridge’s place as part of Austin’s safety net for indigent patients. The new hospital is also the Level 1 trauma center serving 11 counties and the primary teaching hospital for UT’s Dell Medical School.
“We had a really detailed run-through yesterday,” Dr. Thomas Caven, the hospitals’ medical director, said as the move began. “We’ve gone through every patient that was in UMC Brackenridge and knew what particular advanced needs they might have, certainly including the intensive care patients that are on ventilators. … They’re going to have a respiratory therapist ride with them.”
Patient Lillian Mabee, who was admitted into Brackenridge last week for a foot infection, said the staff told her about the move and asked if she was OK with it.
“I have no problem with it; as a matter of fact, I’m looking forward to it,” Mabee told reporters. “Because it’s so much more spacious, and they said you will not believe how beautiful it is.”
The old hospital will be torn down next year to make way for a mixed use development with space for businesses in the medical field.
The new Dell Seton hospital has a “population health” bent and boasts more spacious operating rooms and areas dedicated to “teaching the next generation of health care providers,” hospital president Christann Vasquez said.
“We’re ready for this day and ready for patients to see this new environment that’s certainly different from across the street,” Vasquez said. “We’ve taken the spirit from across the street … and enhanced the level of patient-centered care.”