By Kim Steele
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS - Construction officials call their building timetable for Seton Medical Center "very ambitious" and "aggressive." In fact, those adjectives fail to describe adequately the flurry of activity at the large building rising along the south side of Central Texas Expressway.
Mike Herrmann, superintendent with Layton Construction Co. in Brentwood, Tenn., said the entire construction process will take 13 months from start to finish.
"This is one of the fastest schedules I've ever worked but everything is coming together very well," said Herrmann. "Thirty years ago, this would have taken three years. Now, the technology and equipment is so advanced. We built this hospital on a computer first and that helped solve problems up front."
Herrmann, who is overseeing construction at the site, said two big milestones have passed: completing the roof and getting the building "dried in," or covered, to protect it from rain. So far, 285 construction workers have logged 190,000 hours of work on the project.
Upcoming construction milestones include installing air-handling units this week that will chill and heat the air and placing all the window glass in another month. Before turning the building over to Seton, the final milestone will be a state health inspection, which is scheduled for mid-April.
"To me, every job is like raising a child," said Herrmann. "It's great to start something and see it go to the finish. I will miss it when I leave. This has been very stressful but very rewarding, and I'm happy with it."
Tour of site
Herrmann and other officials led tours through the facility Wednesday evening to show about 20 doctors and staff recent progress on the project. The hospital, which initially will have 83 beds and 75 physicians, is slated to open next summer.
After a barbecue dinner catered by Big Daddy's, guests viewed the nuclear medicine area, the emergency center's 17 rooms, ICU's 10 rooms, four operating rooms, a copper-lined Magnetic Resonance Imaging section and eight large labor, delivery, recovery and post-partum rooms.
Matt Maxfield, CEO of the new hospital, walked a small group through unfinished hallways, pausing to show off a built-out patient room on the second floor as well as a waiting area and staff break room.
Maxfield, who has been with the hospital for six months, said the new facility is the culmination of planning between area physicians and the architectural-and-design team. The building is designed to accommodate growth, with the ability to add two more operating rooms and 55 beds.
"This is a fantastic thing for everyone," said Maxfield, who plans to hire 30 more doctors in the hospital's first year. "It offers a new choice of health care to the community, and the latest in technology for physicians and staff. Not only is the building designed to meet the needs of physicians, it will be a relaxing and warm place for patients."
The Harker Heights Medical Pavilion next door will be 98 percent occupied when it opens in the summer, said Maxfield. The 60,000-square-foot, three-story building will include a variety of medical specialties from oncology to internal medicine.
Charles Day, chief of staff at the hospital, said planning for the hospital started about four years ago, when 70 area physicians calling themselves Killeen Investment Partners worked together to attract a new, better hospital group to the area. Day, president of the physicians group, said Seton's parent company, LHP Hospital Group Inc., was chosen by the doctors.
"There was such a need here, and LHP saw it," said Day. "Although the country was in the midst of health care reform, a recession and a credit crisis, LHP still thought it was worthwhile to build. This hospital demonstrates the unwavering commitment of local physicians and demand for alternate health care."
Day said Seton's parent company offers transparency and commitment to its physicians, in stark contrast to some other area hospitals, and the assurance of their survival in this community through a high-quality place to work. Also, the medical facility will be a boon to Harker Heights, he added.
"This will increase the intensity of the economic spotlight on Harker Heights," said Day. "It's a big feather in the city's cap. Harker Heights is strategically located in the midst of the best growth center between Lampasas and Temple. The hospital will provide a bigger opportunity for health care partnerships."
Doctors touring the construction site liked what they saw of the new hospital.
Dr. Richard Cashion, a cardiologist who practices at Metroplex Hospital in Killeen, said he plans to operate at Seton and knows what LHP Hospital Group is about and what it can do.
"They have a close relationship with their physicians and listen to what the community, patients, staff and doctors need," said Cashion. "It's a different culture of everyone making sure the hospital is the best it can be. That's exciting to me, and I'm looking forward to it."
Dr. Marisol Carpio, a gynecologist and obstetrician who delivers at Scott & White Hospital in Temple, was interested in viewing the 340-square-foot labor, delivery, recovery and post-partum room.
The doctor has an office at King's Daughters Clinic in Temple but is considering the new Harker Heights Medical Pavilion.
"I'm so happy to have this hospital," said Carpio, who plans to deliver babies at Seton. "There's a huge need for this in the area now, especially with all the soldiers coming back. I think the community is really excited, and as doctors, we're just like little kids about it."
Contact Kim Steele at email@example.com or (254) 501-7567.
About the new Seton Medical Center Harker Heights
Seton Medical Center Harker Heights will have plenty of customer-friendly amenities when it opens in 2012. Here are some of the highlights of the facility's path to completion and what it will offer to the community.
By the numbers
192,400 square feet
83 licensed beds
$100 million project
Groundbreaking occurred April 4
Scheduled to open third quarter 2012
Anticipated number of employees: Year 1 – 500; Year 3 – 877; Year 5 – 958
Programs and services
Full-service emergency department
Intensive care unit
Women's services, including labor and delivery, obstetrics and gynecology and a Level II nursery
Medical and surgical services
Acute-care services, including cardiology, interventional cardiology, oncology, orthopaedics and neurosurgery
Imaging and diagnostic services, including MRI, 64-slice CT with cardiac package, digital radiology and digital mammography
Electronic medical records
Equal representation from LHP Hospital Group Inc. and the Seton Family of Hospitals
Local hospital board
composed of equal representatives of physicians and community leaders
All private patient rooms
Window wall to maximize natural light
Courtyard in Women's Center
The hospital interior is Hill Country-inspired with earth tones and natural lighting
More the 1,967 new jobs created by 2022
Estimated total economic impact: $1.5 billion by 2022
Layout Construction Company Inc.
Ascension Group Architects
70-80 percent of all subcontractors will be from local companies
(Medical Office Building)
Located adjacent to Seton Medical Center Harker Heights
60,000 square feet
Medical specialties will include family medicine, internal medicine, cardiology, general surgery, orthopaedic surgery, neurosurgery, plastic surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, otolaryngology, nephrology, neurology, oncology, rheumatology and urology
Groundbreaking in fall 2011
Scheduled to open in summer 2012
Developed by Rendina Companies
Source: Seton Medical Center Harker Heights
- Kim Steele