Patients and visitors will soon notice work taking place to prepare for the new $450 million care tower at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Wake Forest Baptist Health critical care tower rendering
This rendering is a concept that illustrates what the care tower could look like and is subject to change.

The project includes an upgraded emergency department, state-of-the-art operating rooms and enhanced adult intensive care units and is the next step in a series of significant investments in the Triad as a result of Wake Forest Baptist Health’s strategic combination with Atrium Health.

The care tower will be built where Parking Deck B currently stands. Before this parking deck can be taken down, two helipads will be built on the top of Parking Deck C, near the emergency department and the Comprehensive Cancer Center, to accommodate medical helicopters from Wake Forest Baptist’s AirCare, and those from other hospitals and air ambulance providers.

A new elevator – which will be large enough to accommodate a stretcher and several staff members – will be installed in Parking Deck C to allow patients to be quickly and safely transported from helicopters to the emergency department, trauma center and operating rooms. Plans call for an additional helipad to be built on top of the care tower.

The existing helipads on the top of Parking Deck B will then be removed, along with the entire parking deck.

“As a leading academic health system, we are committed to growing and adapting to meet the needs of our community and our region,” said Julie Ann Freischlag, M.D., CEO of Wake Forest Baptist Health, dean of Wake Forest School of Medicine, and chief academic officer of Atrium Health. “This new, world-class facility will allow us to enhance our clinical capabilities and provide leading-edge educational and research opportunities to help improve trauma and emergency care in our region and across the country.”

“As the only Level I Trauma Center and Burn Center in the region, we serve patients and their families from not only North Carolina, but from surrounding states,” said Cathleen Wheatley, D.N.P., president of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “Many people have been working behind the scenes on this project for quite some time, and we are eager to begin construction on this tower that will enable us to provide even better life-saving care to those who count on us.”

Because the tower is being built on an existing footprint, Wake Forest Baptist will communicate changes in parking and traffic flow on campus well in advance of and throughout the construction process so patients and visitors will clearly understand how to navigate and access the medical center.

The care tower is expected to be completed by the end of 2025.