GCGH breaks ground on $6.5 million addition/renovation
Greene County General Hospital embarked on what hospital leaders are calling a 'new era' for the Linton-based medical facility.
Before the first shovels of dirt were turned ---- signaling the start of the $6.5 million state of the art emergency room expansion as well as renovation to the physical therapy, radiology, pharmacy departments ---- Greene County General Hospital's Chief Financial Officer/Assistant CEO Tim Norris called this a good and important day for entire Greene County community.
He credited board of trustee members, the hospital's staff and area banks ---- Bloomfield State Bank, Farmer's & Mechanics Federal Savings and Loan and the Crane Federal Credit Union ---- for providing the vision and financial support to make this project a reality.
Norris lauded the support of the community for the hospital's services and promised better, and more technologically advanced care in future months when the project is completed.
Construction of Phase I which includes the new emergency department addition as well as the new Main Entrance and Physical Therapy Renovation is scheduled to be completed in the third quarter of 2013.
The emergency room expansion work will be centered on the east side of the hospital with an approximate 8,000 square foot addition. There will also be some space in the addition for radiology.
Construction of Phase II which includes renovation of the Mammography Area, Radiology Area, Ultrasound Room, and Imaging Department is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2014.
There will be separate ER canopy-covered entrances for patients and for ambulance vehicle drop-off. The main front entry to the hospital will also get a canopy cover for drop-offs.
The project will add some parking spaces and there will be a lot of glass and a lot of natural light coming into the new space and a lot of openness in the design by architect Ernie Dreher from The Estopinal Group from Jeffersonville.
Garmong Construction Services, of Terre Haute, will serve as construction managers for the project.
"This is a very, very important day," Norris said. "I'd like to thank the staff and the doctors for allowing us to grow."
Norris said planned improvements in the ER will bring a new level of quality to the hospital with a better quality facility with state of the art equipment that's comparable with any hospital in the area.
Norris noted that there are going to be some logistical inconveniences during the construction phase for patients and staff and he asked for patience from the community.
"We're very, very proud of our employees and we ask that the people of Linton have some patience with us," Norris said.
Former GCGH Board of Trustees president Ralph Hiatt recalled that talk about this expansion started in 2008.
"It's been a long battle. Of course, 11 people (on the board) don't necessarily agree all of the time, but it all worked out," Hiatt said.
Hiatt said the expansion was very much needed.
"Three emergency room beds in this day and age just isn't enough," Hiatt said in saying the ER room in this county is heavily used because of a lack of primary care physicians.
"That (the ER) is their doc, that is for sure," he said.
Hiatt said former board member James "Big O" Oliphant, who passed away May 21 after a long battle with leukemia was a key player in this project.
He was 54.
Oliphant served as board vice president and a member of the county council at the time of his death.
In remarks, Hiatt said the groundbreaking is a tribute to Oliphant and his behind the scenes support and expertise.
"He was very, very much in favor of all of this and helped tremendously to get it open," Hiatt said in commenting that Oliphant would be very proud on this day to see the project moving forward to the construction phase.
He continued, "He helped us tremendously on our financing, how to look for it and what to look for. He was just invaluable. He was one man that I was honored to get to know."
Former GCGH administrator Jonas Uland, who was involved in most of the project planning, retired Sept. 30. Norris is the hospital's assistant CEO until the board of trustees act on Uland's replacement.
Uland attended the ceremony and said a lot of people on the board and in the community lent a helping hand to make this all possible.
He said that Dr. Fred Ridge, M.D., was an invaluable resource during the planning process in providing input and sharing ideas.
Emergency Room director Dr. Michael Gamble, M.D. said the hospital's administration over the years should be credited with laying the groundwork to allow this expansion/renovation to move forward.
"The administration has shepherded the hospital through a long period of time and done a good job in building the hospital to a point where we can begin this renovation/addition," Gamble said. "This will exciting as we continue to shape and improve our health care system for the Greene County community."
Linton Mayor John Wilkes pledged the support of the city administration as the hospital continues to grow as a major employer in the community with more than 270 employees.
"We are very, very fortunate to have this hospital in Linton. A lot of communities our size don't have it (a hospital)," Wilkes said. "What we are all trying to do is make Linton a better place to work, to live and grow old. I'd like to thank the people that had the vision to look forward and bring this addition to place that it is today," Wilkes said.
"It's going to be a great addition for the community and it's going to create more jobs . The medical facility is going to be much better so it's going to be a much better place for us to live."