On Saturday, May 23, 2020, Baptist Health and DPR/Perry-McCall Construction, Inc. used two 550-ton cranes to lift a new, steel skybridge into place. The bridge weighs approximately 110 tons, and is 85 feet long by 10 feet wide.
The skybridge is a significant next step in the comprehensive construction plan of the future seven-story Baptist Jacksonville Entry Building/Wolfson Children’s Critical Care Tower. The building, which is planned to reach completion in 2021, will be the new “front door,” reorienting the entire medical campus to enhance wayfinding for patients and visitors. The Tower will also have five floors dedicated to pediatric critical care at Wolfson Children’s Hospital.
“Seeing the skybridge in place is very satisfying. The bridge has been under construction for several months, prior to it being elevated above Palm Avenue,” said Keith Tickell, senior vice president of strategic assets and real estate at Baptist Health. “The project demanded careful planning and state-of-the-art construction and design techniques. Safety remained our No. 1 priority throughout the process and we look forward to seeing our patients, visitors and team members cross the bridge into the new building with no exposure to vehicle traffic.”
The skybridge will open to pedestrians in late September, which will allow visitors to park in the P2 Garage and cross above Palm Avenue, rather than crossing the street. When the new tower construction is complete, the skybridge will transform the experience of entering Baptist Jacksonville and Wolfson Children’s Hospital, as patients and visitors will walk directly from their cars, onto the skybridge and into the second level lobby of the building.
“We want to ensure patients and visitors experience a welcoming introduction to our downtown campus. Parking is often the first interaction with our campus, even prior to entering the facility,” said Michael A. Mayo, FACHE, hospital president of Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville. “By connecting our parking garage to the future entrance of both our adult and pediatric hospitals, we are standing true to our commitment of connecting the community to comprehensive health care.”
The Tower will include a high-level 92-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Center as well as a 35-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). The Neonatal Intensive Care Center will be comprised of three separate units, replacing the current 56-bed Level II and Level III Newborn ICUs at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. These centers will add additional services for highly specialized, rare and critical conditions, including pediatric post-trauma care.
“The installation of the skybridge brings us one step closer to the opening of the Wolfson Children’s Critical Care Tower, a beautiful facility inside and out,” said Michael D. Aubin, FACHE, hospital president of Wolfson Children’s Hospital. “This building will be a place of healing and hope, bringing life-saving critical care and treatment to children in our community and well beyond. We know this new Children’s Critical Care Tower will impact families for decades to come and are grateful to our donors, whose generous support of our mission makes it possible for us to provide the highest level of care for our most vulnerable patients.”