ROCHESTER — Mayo Clinic on Tuesday revealed more details about its “Bold. Forward. Unbound. in Rochester” initiative that invests $5 billion to reshape six downtown blocks by 2030. The plan includes the construction of five new buildings — including two clinical buildings — with architectural firms Foster + Partners and CannonDesign and construction manager Gilbane. Construction is anticipated to pick up in early 2024, beginning with the demolition of former hotels on West Center Street, the former Lourdes High School building, Damon parking ramp and the Ozmun building.

The 2.4 million square feet of new space will be “infused with technology to improve care delivery,” said Dr. Amy Williams, Mayo Clinic executive dean of practice. Those clinical buildings will feature a flexible grid where rooms and floors can meet the structural specifications needed for operating suites, inpatient hospital beds and diagnostic imaging spaces. This opens the door to converting some operating rooms, for example, into inpatient rooms, or vice versa.

“Right now we’re looking at 306 beds and more operating rooms, more spaces for procedures and imaging,” Williams said. “As we learn and as our needs of patients change over time, we’ll be able to flex those numbers, depending on practice innovations in the future and insights that we get from our staff.”

The $5 billion, five building expansion “removes the space constraints” that currently affect Mayo Clinic’s Rochester-based staff, said Dr. Craig Daniels, the physician leader for the initiative. “Most of our facilities have constraints on the space that is needed to provide great care now,” Daniels said. “By building new spaces, it provides an opportunity for us to move the right things around to create better care situations for patients and better team care for our teams.”

With rooms and floors designed to be flexible in their use, Daniels said spaces in the clinical buildings will be organized into “neighborhoods” to “co-locate services around common patient needs like labs, imaging, consultations and treatment.” “For patients struggling with a diagnosis, that might mean that we develop a diagnostic neighborhood to bring the tools of diagnostic care around them — imaging and labs and diagnostic expertise and consultation,” Daniels said.

A patient undergoing a surgery, for example, would receive their outpatient consultation, preoperative care, the operation itself and postoperative care within the same surgical neighborhood, Daniels said, rather than moving between different departments or buildings. The two nine-story clinical buildings, planned to replace the Ozmun building and Damon parking ramp, will be 221 feet in height — not quite as tall as the 305-foot Gonda Building — but will be built to accommodate up to 420 feet of further vertical expansion.

Those new clinical buildings will connect with Gonda’s 10th floor through a skybridge, and they will be connected to a new logistics building on the former Lourdes site via an underground tunnel. That logistics center will “take advantage of innovative technologies like robotics, automation, predictive analytics and other solutions” to distribute resources to care teams, per Mayo Clinic’s news release.

The remaining two new buildings will be parking ramps, containing a combined 1,300 parking spaces, that will connect patients with Mayo Clinic’s new “recognized point of arrival.” With these new facilities, Williams said Mayo Clinic will likely recruit new staff, but she doesn’t anticipate a “sudden” surge in hiring.

“It will be a gradual growth, like we have now,” Williams said. “As we transform, we will continue to all learn together, and all of us will be reskilled as we need to (in order) to work in this environment.” One staff-oriented change, Daniels said, is using the new buildings’ integrated technologies to track and log patient information in order to reduce the time doctors and nurses spend charting.

“We plan on building an intelligent building that’s filled with tools like predictive analytics and robotic delivery so that we can anticipate care teams’ needs and patient needs through the best technology possible,” Daniels said. “We hope that the building can listen to providers and transcribe notes for them so they spend less time writing notes and more time with patients.”

The digital tools build upon technologies that are already in use, such as wearable monitoring devices that patients use outside of a health care facility to monitor their heart rate or blood pressure, Daniels said. “In the very near future, we imagine that patients undergoing serious treatments and receiving diagnostic evaluations will need that continuous conductivity,” Daniels said. “They won’t be calling us and saying that they’re feeling ill and need an appointment. We’ll be calling them and saying, ‘We’re concerned about you, please come back for a CT scan in your abdomen tomorrow.’”

During the announcement event in the Gonda Building Tuesday afternoon, Rochester Mayor Kim Norton spoke about the 2013 establishment of Destination Medical Center and the Unbound project as the “manifestation of that commitment” between Mayo Clinic, the city and the state of Minnesota. “I’m proud that we helped set the stage for this transformational project here, right here, in Rochester,” Norton said.

Appearing via a prerecorded video, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar congratulated Mayo Clinic on the initiative and spoke about her personal experience with the health system; it was at Mayo Clinic where Klobuchar received her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment in 2021. “That’s one of the many reasons that I’m grateful for your work,” Klobuchar said. “I can’t wait to see what you do next.”

In his remarks, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said the initiative “isn’t the usual ‘pat on the back’ for doing things we’re supposed to do.” “This is going above and beyond,” Walz continued. “It’s not lost on myself, our administration or the people of Minnesota — you choose to make that investment in Rochester, Minnesota. You made a conscious effort as you looked elsewhere, where you could go, you said ‘No, this is the best place.’”

Mayo Clinic formally unveiled the Unbound initiative in early June, just weeks after the Minnesota Legislature passed a watered-down version of the Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act. In May, Mayo Clinic said it would move “significant facilities and infrastructure investments” out of Minnesotaif lawmakers passed KNABA, which would have required hospitals to create specific committees to set minimum nurse staffing levels, or a proposal to establish a Health Care Affordability Board.

Last month, Mayo Clinic filed a permit to build a $920,000 “prototyping space” in the downtown Harwick Building, and demolition is underway on the West Center Street block between Fifth Avenue NW and Fourth Avenue NW. The Unbound initiative got the Mayo Clinic Board of Trustees’ approval earlier this month, a Mayo Clinic spokesperson said. Post Bulletin reporter Jeff Kiger contributed to this report.