ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The University of New Mexico Hospital is one step closer to getting a new hospital tower. The $400 million project was approved by the state’s Higher Education Department.

According to a press release from the department, it has been working on the project with UNM since 2019 and is the largest-scale capital outlay project by a public university in New Mexico in 10 years. The Higher Education Department reports that all major construction and capital outlay projects by public colleges and universities in New Mexico must be approved by the department’s Capital Outlay Committee regardless of how they are being funded.

Under the proposal, the seven-level tower would house 96 ICU beds, 18 operating rooms, multiple medical laboratories and suites, and a complete adult emergency department. The press release states the space will also have a satellite pharmacy, blood bank, clinical laboratory, as well as spaces for occupational, respiratory, physical, and speech therapy.

Spaces for retail pharmacy, education, and food service will also be available for staff and visitors. The proposal states that the facility will reduce patient wait time for treatment, reduce the need to divert patients to seek out-of-state care, and will expand the capacity to treat patients and be better prepared for future public health emergencies.

The total approved cost for the project is $401.9 million with $320 million of it consisiting of a mortgage backed by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department. The Higher Education Department states that $30 million has been allocated in state funding while $51.9 million will come from UNM Hospital Capital Initiatives.

The project will take place in several phases and is expected to be complete in June 2024 and open to patients in October 2024. The proposal now heads to the New Mexico Board of Finance for approval.