Board approves pursuit of psych bed certificates of need in Charleston and Pee Dee, supports new building connector

Trustees receive information on record research funding for FY 2022

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Oct. 14, 2022)The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Medical University Hospital Authority (MUHA) Board of Trustees held their regularly scheduled committee sessions and board meeting on Oct. 13 and 14, respectively.

Statewide data consistently demonstrates that a behavioral health crisis is underway throughout South Carolina, fueled by lack of access to acute and outpatient behavioral and mental health services for many individuals and communities. MUSC’s comprehensive leadership in education, research and clinical care recently led to working in close partnership with the S.C. Department of Health and Human Services and its advisory group partners to determine innovative infrastructure and care delivery solutions. Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., MUSC Health System CEO and executive vice president for Health Affairs, University, received approval from the board to pursue certificates of need for 40 psychiatry inpatient beds at University Hospital in Charleston (20 for medical-surgical psychiatry patients and 20 for medical-psychiatry patients) and 25 inpatient psychiatry beds at the MUSC Health Florence Cedar Tower facility.

“We are jam-packed in Charleston, with occupancy rates consistently at 90% or above for our inpatient beds, and in Florence, they have the least number of inpatient care beds per capita in the entire state,” Cawley said. “In working with the state and other partners, we are envisioning a multifaceted behavioral and mental health plan that involves inpatient beds, crisis stabilization centers and better outpatient connectivity through mechanisms like our telehealth national center of excellence. This is just the beginning.”

On the heels of Hurricane Ian and in consideration of the consistent issues related to flooding and sea-level rise for the Charleston campus, the board was notified of the selection of The S/L/A/M Collaborative as the architecture and engineering firm for a new above-street campus connector bridge that would span from the library located between Ashley Avenue and Jonathan Lucas Street to the Ashley River Tower hospital located on Courtenay Street.

“This is a critical piece of infrastructure for the continued viability of our academic health system flagship on the Charleston peninsula,” said James Lemon, D.M.D, MUSC board chairman. “As we continue to work with local, state and federal partners on flooding mitigation initiatives and funding strategies, it’s important that we move forward with those things we can implement as quickly as possible to ensure the safety of patients, families, and our MUSC team members.”

The board voted to move forward with planning for a combined heat and power facility on Ehrhardt Street that will serve the bulk of the existing (and planned) MUSC Charleston campus with electrical power and steam. This approval was contingent upon the ability to utilize federal credits to offset the overall anticipated expense of the project.

“This project will reduce the overall cost of the Charleston campus energy and will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well. The facility will be capable of powering the bulk of the entire Charleston campus, including critical medical and research facilities in the event of an electric utility outage, contributing significantly to the Charleston campus’s operating resilience, “said Rick Anderson, MUSC executive vice president for Finance and Operations.

In addition, the board voted to approve the budget for an expansion of clinical space at the MUSC West Ashley Medical Pavilion to support physical and occupational therapy, lab services, breast imaging and other clinical space. In terms of innovative educational space, the board received information about the construction manager at risk for the new College of Health Professions and College of Medicine buildings. Thompson Turner was selected after a state bidding process. Both buildings are slated for the area located at the corner of President and Bee streets. 

As part of his regular board report, MUSC President David J. Cole, M.D., FACS, provided board members with a document detailing numerous “wins” across the education, research and clinical missions of the institution. Some specific highlights included the launch of the kidney transplant program in the MUSC Health-Lancaster Division (20 performed to date); a National Institutes of Health (NIH) R25 innovative programs training grant of $2.4 million over five years, with a goal of increasing representation of women and underrepresented minorities as inventors and entrepreneurs in South Carolina; a $1.2 million grant from the Duke Endowment to the Hollings Cancer Center to increase the screening rates for five cancers and expand biomarker research trials across the state; and recognition of 15 nurses across the MUSC Health statewide system for their S.C. Palmetto Gold awards for Nursing Excellence.

Lori McMahon, Ph.D., vice president for Research, said that the final audited research funding number for FY 2022 was more than $297.8 million. In FY 2021, MUSC reported $327.6 million, and while the difference may appear to represent a decrease in sustained research funding, McMahon pointed out that changes from FY 2021 to FY 2022 were related to the discontinuation of unique one-time COVID-related grants and funds that were no longer in play.

“It’s important to note that when you back out the research dollars tied specifically to the COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery effort and, instead, compare our FY 2020 funding number of $274 million with our FY 2022 number, we’ve actually increased our overall research funding by more than $20 million,” she said. “I’m incredibly pleased to say that MUSC remains the state leader in overall research funding.”

The MUSC/MUHA Board of Trustees serve as separate bodies to govern the University and hospital, normally holding two days of committee and board meetings six times a year. For more information about the MUSC Board of Trustees, visit


About MUSC 

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is the state’s only comprehensive academic health system, with a unique mission to preserve and optimize human life in South Carolina through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates more than 3,000 students in six colleges – Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy – and trains more than 850 residents and fellows in its health system. MUSC brought in more than $297.8 million in research funds in fiscal year 2022, leading the state overall in research funding. For information on academic programs, visit

As the health care system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest-quality and safest patient care while educating and training generations of outstanding health care providers and leaders to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Patient care is provided at 14 hospitals with approximately 2,500 beds and five additional hospital locations in development; more than 350 telehealth sites, with connectivity to patients’ homes; and nearly 750 care locations situated in all regions of South Carolina. In 2022, for the eighth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit

MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets totaling $5.1 billion. The nearly 25,000 MUSC team members include a world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers, scientists, students, affiliates and care team members who deliver and support groundbreaking education, research and patient care.