The doctor will see you now.
UT Southwestern opened the doors today to its sixth and largest regional medical center—UT Southwestern Medical Center at RedBird. Located in the 150,000-square-foot space of a former Sears store, the new hospital marks the first time UTSW has transformed a former retail space into a regional medical center.
“Culturally, malls were built to be destinations for the community. They’re centrally located, highly visible, and they have lots of parking—all things we want to deliver for our patients,” said Dr. Marc Nivet, UTSW’s executive VP for institutional advancement, in a recent blog post. “In RedBird, we recognized an opportunity to expand our footprint in Dallas and to have a vital presence in a community that has traditionally been underserved by the health care industry.”
‘It will change lives and a community’
As part of a project to redevelop the former Redbird Mall and its surrounding area in South Oak Cliff, the hospital began accepting patients today. In addition to providing primary care, screening, and pharmacy services, UTSW said the new facility will also include specialties focused on neurology, cardiology, and cancer—all things it says were introduced as a result of community outreach and research.
Other services will include things like diabetes prevention, culinary medicine, mammography, and infusion therapy. The two-story facility will also soon house a joint pediatric endeavor between the UTSW Pediatric Group and Children’s Health—a first for the two organizations, according to the Oak Cliff Advocate, which adds that the UTSW facility has created around 100 new jobs.
Structure was ‘stripped to the studs’ to create the medical center
While the space that came with the “big box” structure of Sears was a boon for the medical center overall, one main ingredient for a patient-friendly center was missing, UTSW said: “Natural light.”
“We ended up looking at three different ways to add natural light into the building,” said Gary Fitzjarrell, Senior Project Manager for Health System Affairs at UTSW, in the post. “First, we put as many windows on the outside as we could, and some of the interior walls have what we call ‘clear stories,’ or glass, so you can see more light in the building.”
Fitzjarell and his team worked with architecture firm Perkins + Will to “create comfortable, empathetic spaces for patients throughout UTSW RedBird.”
UTSW added a courtyard down the middle of the building. “It’s what we call the bamboo garden, and it should be quite peaceful for our patients, Fitzjarrell said.
After breaking ground on the project—which UTSW leader Keith Taylor said involved stripping the “structure down to the studs”—the now-open regional facility joins others across DFW including outposts in Frisco, Fort Worth, and Irving.
The project’s two-story structure includes room for Children’s Health, which plans to move in next year, combining its efforts with UTSW Pediatric Group.
Proving access to health care
UTSW said its goal at RedBird is to provide services that have historically been lacking for residents of Southern Dallas—where, The Dallas Morning News notes, the life expectancy is lower than in other parts of the city, along with suburbs like DeSoto, Duncanville, and Lancaster.
The new facility, which sits at the southern gateway to Dallas near 1-20 and U.S. 67, helps bring health care closer to home for patients.
“If we learned anything during the pandemic, it’s that access to health care is inequitably distributed in our country, which has a huge impact on health outcomes,” said Peter Brodsky, owner and developer of RedBird Mall, in June. “By providing convenient access to this level of health care in this area, it will change lives and a community.”
Parkland also has a facility at the $200M RedBird redevelopment
UTSW isn’t the only locally based institution moving to RedBird. Last September, Parkland Hospital opened a 40,000 square-foot primary care facility in the former mall, which also includes centers for child psychiatry and physical rehab.
The efforts of UTSW and Parkland are part of a $200 million project to redevelop the 95-acre mall site, called Reimagine Redbird. With the goal of adding services and amenities to residents of the region, the mixed-use development project includes plans for retail, residential, and office space.
“Southwest Dallas County is a place that, historically, has not always been provided with the very best of anything,” Brodsky said. “Having [UTSW] at RedBird gives us a feeling of great pride. I have no doubt that at UTSW, people will be treated the way they should be treated and, as a result, health outcomes will be improved, and lives will be saved.”
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