Employees celebrate Clements Hospital project milestone

By Russell Rian

The UT Southwestern Medical Center campus celebrated a Topping Off ceremony Dec. 11 – a milestone for the new William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital signaling that construction has reached full height.

Topping Off - Clements University Hospital
A tree was raised to the top of the hospital under construction in a Topping Off ceremony marking the project’s placement of its top beam. Opening is set for late 2014.

Hundreds of employees gathered at the construction site for the Topping Off tradition of placing a tree atop a newly constructed building, symbolizing growth and good luck. Employees, students, and faculty also signed a concrete panel that will be incorporated into the building construction and commemorated with a plaque after the building opens. Those unable to attend could watch live streaming video of the ceremony, hosted by the Employee Advisory Council (EAC). 

“As much as we’re celebrating a construction event, we’re really celebrating a milestone for us as an institution and in our commitment to provide the very best care possible to all those who come to us for help, and to do so while training the next generation of caregivers and providing the answers to the yet-unmet medical needs of the worldwide community,” UT Southwestern President Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky told the enthusiastic crowd. Many in the crowd had contributed ideas as part of the interactive design process that involved more than 600 members of the campus community, as well as patients and families.

The 460-bed Clements University Hospital, which broke ground in March 2011, is scheduled to open in late 2014. 

Seven staff-led committees are managing more than 500 critical tasks for the transition to Clements University Hospital from St. Paul University Hospital, which was built nearly 50 years ago and has become too costly to maintain and renovate. 

Topping Off 2
In celebration, UT Southwestern students and employees signed a concrete panel that will become part of the new hospital.

UT Southwestern named its state-of-the-art hospital to honor legendary Texas Gov. William P. Clements Jr., in recognition of his 2009 gift of $100 million to the Southwestern Medical Foundation, the largest single gift for the benefit of UT Southwestern in the institution’s history. 

“Gov. Clements made a remarkable commitment to UT Southwestern, an expression of confidence about what we can do for this community, this state, and this country. It is so fitting that our new University Hospital will carry his name and that we will carry on in the proud tradition of service that distinguished his career,” Dr. Podolsky said at the ceremony.

Dr. Podolsky thanked Cynthia Bassel, Vice President for External Relations; Shawna Ridley, Director of Health Information Management-Faculty Practice Plan and an advisor and past Chair of the EAC; and the EAC, led by Tara Andrews, Operations Manager of Parking Services. 

Visit newhospital.utsouthwestern.edu/index.html to learn more about UT Southwestern’s Clements University Hospital.

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Dr. Podolsky holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.

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