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Published: Tuesday, 10/21/2008

University of Toledo to upgrade Internet access, build new ICU

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The University of Toledo is planning a new intensive care unit for its hospital and adding wireless Internet access to most of the main campus as part of a multimillion-dollar capital improvement plan.

The ICU and technology upgrades are being added to already announced plans for a new pharmacy building and indoor athletic facility, which altogether will cost about $51 million.

The university will issue bonds to pay for the capital projects, which the UT Board of Trustees' finance committee approved yesterday. The matter will be considered by the full board next month.

The university has about $266 million in outstanding bond debt, said Scott Scarborough, UT's senior vice president for finance and administration.

And while the new proposals will push it more than $300 million, UT has $421 million in the bank. That's not a bad ratio, Mr. Scarborough said.

"It will position us to be stronger operationally and financially," he said. "These are core projects."

UT President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs said he would like to finish the projects and likely take a break, considering the state of the economy.

The new $7 million, 24-room intensive care unit at the UT Medical Center, formerly Medical College of Ohio Hospital, will be on the third floor, which houses the cardiac care center. The center will move to the first floor.

There are no immediate plans for the existing 14-room ICU area, also on the third floor, but it could be used as a dialysis center or recovery area, university officials said.

The new ICU will add 10 rooms, all of which will be larger, have the latest technology, and be more attractive than the current intensive care areas that are the oldest and least renovated parts of the hospital, Dr. Jacobs said.

"It's a major step to create the patient-friendly atmosphere," Dr. Jacobs said.

The $9 million in technology upgrades approved yesterday include $2 million to provide wireless for more than 4 million square feet of university buildings on main and Scott Park campuses, Mr. Scarborough said. The health science campus already is wireless.

"This is a project students have been asking for for some time," Mr. Scarborough said.

Last year, about a quarter of UT's main campus buildings had wireless. The project will provide wireless access to all academic buildings and residence halls, with some overflow outside.

The other $7 million of the technology funding is needed to complete the $17 million "digital campus" effort to make all hospital records electronic.

The $25 million pharmacy building and $11 million indoor practice facility, $1 million of which is being paid with a private gift, are in the design phase and should start taking shape in the spring.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:

mgilbert@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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