Mercy, the sixth largest Catholic healthcare system in the United States, has begun construction on what it says is the nation's first virtual care center.

The four-story, 120,000-square-foot center, located in Chesterfield, Mo., will open in 2015 and accommodate nearly 300 physicians, nurses, specialists, researchers, and support staff. Care will be delivered 24/7 via audio, video and data connections to locations across Mercy as well as outside of Mercy through partnerships with other healthcare providers and large employers. Mercy estimates that the center will manage more than 3 million telehealth visits in the next five years. The center also will be a hub for advancing telemedicine through research and training.

Representing an investment of approximately $50 million in development, the new facility will serve as the command center for all of Mercy’s telemedicine programs – a growing list that includes the nation’s largest single-hub electronic ICU (eICU) and features more than 75 other services.

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