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Dell Seton Medical Center will get a $280 million expansion

An illustration shows a multi-storied building with the words "Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas" at the top.
Rendering courtesy of Ascension Seton
Four new floors will be added to Dell Seton Medical Center's patient tower. The facility's building facing Red River Street will also get a new floor.

Dell Seton Medical Center at UT Austin is set to get a major expansion to the tune of $280 million, the facility’s parent hospital system Ascension Seton announced Monday.

The expansion will add 150 beds and more than 160,000 square feet to Dell Seton. Four new floors will be added to the top of the teaching hospital’s patient tower. Additionally, the portion of the hospital facing Red River Street will get a new floor.

The upgrades will bring more space to the intensive care unit and add six new operating rooms as well as more on-call suites and clinical and outpatient space. Wound and burn care, oncology and abdominal transplant facilities will be added, and Dell Seton’s neurology services will see a boost with the addition of a neurocritical care unit for patients with neurological diseases requiring complex care.

“We look forward to providing even more capabilities and infrastructure to expand access to high-quality, individualized care for all in Central Texas,” Andy Davis, president and CEO of Ascension Texas, said in a statement.

This is the first major addition to the hospital since its doors opened in May 2017, when it replaced the former University Medical Center Brackenridge. As the region’s only adult Level I trauma center, Dell Seton has had 454,362 emergency room visits and 61,304 surgeries since opening, according to Ascension.

The newly announced expansion has been anticipated since the beginning, according to Dell Seton President Adam Messer.

"So much of the plans . . . for the expansion were predated in 2017 and obviously modernized to meet today's current specs and needs, as well as the clinical programs that have evolved since that time," Messer told KUT.

Dell Seton is also Travis County’s safety net hospital serving low-income and indigent residents in partnership with Central Health, the county’s public hospital district. However, Dell Seton is currently entangled in a pair of lawsuits between Ascension and Central Health. Both entities say the other is not living up to its side of a contract to provide health care services to low-income residents enrolled in Central Health’s Medical Access Program.

Through its lawsuit against Ascension, Central Health seeks to activate an option to purchase Dell Seton's facilities. Currently, UT Austin owns the land Dell Seton sits on and leases it to Central Health, who subleases it to Ascension Seton. However, Ascension Seton owns the hospital facilities that sit on the property.

Messer said he doesn't expect the lawsuits with Central Health to affect the expansion's progress.

"Our commitment is to continue serving the safety net population of Travis County, which is part of our Central Health relationship, but also continuing to meet the needs of a larger population," he said. "I would hope that this expansion really only continues to underscore that commitment across the board, and I don't see that particular issue interfering with that goal."

Construction on Dell Seton's expansion is set to begin this summer, and it's expected to be completed by 2025.

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Adam Messer's name.

Olivia Aldridge is KUT's health care reporter. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on X @ojaldridge.
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