$48 Million SMCA Expansion Increases Access to Complex Medical Care


The latest phase of Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin‘s $48 million investment to enhance complex care programs is complete and will start accepting patients tomorrow, Sept. 11.

A preview for media, doctors, nurses and others of the new, 57,000-square-foot expansion of the intensive care unit (ICU), intermediate care unit (IMC) and cardiology unit was held after Chaplain Kevin Sheehan performed a blessing. Other speakers were Dr. Jordan Weingarten, pulmonologist and medical director of the Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin’s Intensive Care Unit; Dr. Mark Pirwitz, president and chief executive officer of the Ascension Seton Heart Institute; and Dr. Mark Stewart, Ascension Seton Austin’s chief of staff.


KVUE’s Jim Bergamo interviewed Weingarten on Monday, the day before the official opening. Very early Tuesday morning, Dr. Carol Wratten, Ascension Seton Austin vice president of medical affairs, and Weingarten did live interviews for KXAN’s morning news show.

A total of 60 new, spacious patient rooms, as well as additional comforts and conveniences for patients, their family and the medical staff, have been added.

The new addition features a “racetrack layout” design, with the nursing station in the center with on-floor access to medicine dispensaries and for the third floor and x-ray room. This improves visibility for staff to navigate floor and monitor patient needs

New complex care units adding a total of 60 patient rooms were added in Ascension Seton Austin’s new complex care unit – 12 in ICU, 18 in IMC, and 30 in the Cardiology Unit.

The new rooms are equipped with technology to enhance patient care, including portable monitoring devices, monitors for accessing electronic medical records, patient lift devices and more. The new addition also features a patient monitoring “command center” with 16 high-definition screens.

Care units are specially designed to promote healing. Elements include more natural lighting; enhanced waiting areas that are expansive, with more privacy; and larger, more comfortable patient rooms for families that include sofa beds and larger bathrooms.

For the preview event, a patient room was arranged to simulate a complex care scenario-a high-fidelity mannequin “patient” on cardiopulmonary bypass also known as extracorporeal cardiopulmony (ECMO).

Ascension Seton is the only Central Texas hospital that offers ECMO. A third ECMO device was purchased as part of the most recent investment project.