With a budget of $523 million, the ongoing construction of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Women’s Hospital was already the most expensive building project in the University’s history when it started two years ago. At a meeting Thursday, the University’s Board of Regents will be asked to raise the project’s budget to $754 million — a $231 million increase to the initial price tag.

Max Collins / Daily

If approved, the new funding would add 84 patient beds, two MRI units, one operating room and an inter-operative MRI suite to the 1.1 million square-foot facility. Under the original plans, space for these additions would have remained unfinished to allow for future projects and expansion.

Krista Hopson, a spokeswoman for the University Health System, said an increase in patient demand and the need to keep up with advancements in medical technology warrant the proposed increase in funding.

“Since the project was approved, demand for patient care services has increased beyond expectations,” she said.

If the expansion isn’t approved, Hopson said, the hospital would operate near capacity, 264 beds, by the summer of 2011.

If the extra $231 million in funds is approved, the additional construction will provide a total of 348 beds and delay the project 15 months, to a projected completion date of fall 2012.

The proposal, sponsored by Robert Kelch, executive vice president for medical affairs, and Timothy Slottow, executive vice president and chief financial officer at the University, wouldn’t rely on public money, Hopson said.

“Funding will be provided from the hospital’s and health center’s resources,” Hopson said.

A combination of University Health System reserve funding and $50 million in donations will pay for the additional $96 million in construction costs and $135 million worth of medical equipment under consideration for the existing project, Hopson said.

Though the $754 million price tag on the new hospital is more than three times the cost of the $226 million football stadium renovation project, Hopson said it’s difficult to draw comparisons between health center projects and other construction sites around campus.

“Some of the greatest expenses is the actual medical equipment, and that sets us aside from some other projects,” Hopson said. “It’s not like we’re building a baseball field.”

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