GATESVILLE — Coryell Health is moving forward with plans to renovate and expand its Coryell Memorial Hospital campus after a long delay caused by an explosion that killed three people.
Coryell Health officials and staff, community officials and executives from the construction company hired to complete the project gathered for a “re-groundbreaking” ceremony Tuesday at Memorial Hospital in Gatesville.
“From a board perspective and a staff perspective, we can’t get this done quick enough,” said Coryell Health CEO David Byrom. “Our intention since the day of the explosion was to get our facility back open and get this project completed, and to do that as rapidly as we possibly can.”
The $42 million project has been on hold since a pocket of natural gas exploded in the expansion area June 26, killing three construction workers and injuring 13 others.
The explosion has spawned at least two lawsuits. Coryell Memorial is suing Adolfson & Peterson Inc., the previous contractor on the project, and Zurich American Insurance Company over a proposed settlement for remediation and reconstruction. The hospital has alleged that the contractor and the insurance company have negotiated behind the scenes on a settlement amount, with Zurich paying Adolfson & Peterson $2 million without disclosing it.
A second lawsuit has been filed by the mother of one of the construction workers killed in the explosion. She’s seeking $1 million in damages from Atmos Energy Corporation, Lochridge-Priest, Inc., and Johnson Controls, Inc. for the death of Wilbur Dimas.
Byrom declined comment Tuesday about the lawsuits, saying it would be inappropriate for him to comment for legal reasons.
Coryell Health has brought in a new contractor to oversee the project. The Skiles Group, based in Dallas, was hired about six weeks ago and has been going through the building seeing what needs to be done to get the project back on track.
“We’re going to start back into the hospital in phases,” said Michael Blakemore, senior vice president of The Skiles Group. “(We’re) going to finish the areas that were almost complete or that were damaged and start turning those areas back over so that the community can start getting use out of them.”
Current plans are to have the facility’s cafeteria reopened next month, followed by the new hospital’s operating rooms. Blakemore said the entire project will hopefully be done by the beginning of 2020.
When complete, the Memorial Hospital campus will have a new 25-bed hospital, a 16-bed medical therapy wing, and two additional operating room. Two other operating rooms will be renovated, while existing hospital rooms will be converted into assisted and independent living accommodations.