Vanderbilt Rutherford hospital

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is trying again to build a hospital in Rutherford County after the state denied their initial proposal last year. 

Officials with the medical center on Wednesday announced they intend to file a certificate of need request to Tennessee’s Health Services and Development Agency to build a $144 million, 42-bed hospital in the same location at the intersection of Veterans Parkway and Interstate 840 in Murfreesboro.

Dubbed Vanderbilt Rutherford Hospital, the facility would provide emergency room services, obstetrics, surgical capabilities and cardiac catheterization services as well as additional ICU capacity.

The proposal is a slightly slimmed down version of the one submitted in April 2020, which was highly contested by health care providers already present in the region, including Ascension Saint Thomas, who had also pitched building a neighborhood hospital in the same area.  

The Saint Thomas facility — a $25 million, eight-bed hospital with an emergency room compared to Vanderbilt’s proposed $134 million, 48-bed full-service facility at the time — was ultimately approved. Westlawn Satellite Hospital will serve as an extension of 286-bed Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital for the fast-growing neighborhood. Construction is expected to be completed in early 2022. 

The population boom in Rutherford County, particularly in Murfreesboro, has drawn all of Nashville’s big health care names, with HCA, Ascension and Williamson Medical Center all expanding in the area. VUMC is the only regional health system without a full-service hospital there, despite being the second-largest provider of inpatient care to residents of the county, according to last year’s CON request. 

In a press release, Vanderbilt officials underlined their investments in the community already, including providing $8 million in charity care per year and investing $40.5 million in capital investments in the past three years. In addition, VUMC employs nearly 1,700 people who live in Rutherford County. 

“We did not undertake the decision to submit a new application for Vanderbilt Rutherford Hospital lightly,” Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Health System Officer C. Wright Pinson said in the release. “But we have heard from numerous people in Murfreesboro and Rutherford County, including state and local government officials, community and business leaders, fellow healthcare professionals, and most importantly many of our patients, who are vocal supporters of these plans and continue to encourage us to move forward with this proposal.”