By Jasmine Morales

Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center public affairs

The new Women's Health Clinic currently under construction at the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center brings a whole new look to the east wing of the hospital and will feature a more relaxed and comforting atmosphere for future moms.

"The purpose of this construction project is to expand the women's health services and add more clinical space within the hospital," said Brian Prediger, Darnall's chief of facility management. "We should be opening the doors in August 2010,"

Prediger said the most unique element of the new clinic is its design. Instead of the hospital's existing flat-square look, the new extension will be a soft curved structure, giving it a modern look.

"The existing hospital is very square, so architects created a curvature on the east side of the clinic. Also, the labor and delivery recovery suites will have a full open window around the curvature, making it a more patient-friendly environment," Prediger said.

This design will bring in light that is more natural to the facility.

"On the second floor there will be nine labor delivery room suites," Prediger said.

Unlike the current labor and delivery rooms that measure 189 square feet and are built within the interior of the hospital, the new suites will be almost double the size and built on the exterior of the clinic, giving patients a pleasant outdoor view.

"All of the new suites will be 400 square feet each and be positioned on the exterior of the floor providing window views," Prediger said. "The main level will have space for all outpatient needs and the majority of services currently available on the south side of the hospital will be moved to the new east wing."

Access to the Women's Health Clinic on the east wing will be via three connections joining the existing and new structures. Two of the three connecting extensions will be open to the patients and visitors and the other for staff to travel between the operating rooms and delivery rooms.

The construction project is part of a $19.7 million contract funded by the TRICARE Management Agency, which provides funding for Army, Navy, and Air Force medical construction.

One obstacle Prediger and his team faced early on with the project was the facility was designed in 2003 and was funded with 2003 construction dollars.

"The cost of construction within five years increased over 50 percent," Prediger said. "So to get this project awarded, we had to think outside the box. We were able to successfully award this project directly under a small-business and minority contracting method that was financially advantageous to the government."

The contractor broke ground for the clinic in April 2008, and it is now about 35 percent complete.

On any given day, people passing by can see 50 to 100 concrete, iron and electrical workers on site.

"A lot of the infrastructure is complete to include the water connectivity, sewer, electrical, concrete shell for the basement and first floor," Prediger said. "The second floor shell is currently going up. We are starting to see some interior work in the basement level such as building the stairwell shaft and elevator shaft."

When completed, the new extension will be about 50,000 square feet and will include a basement and mechanical area.

It will increase Darnall to 600,000-


Other essentials include an elevator cart, nursing stations and rooms furnished with the latest state-of-the-art equipment.

"When the new clinic opens, services that were temporarily moved to outlying clinics on post will return. One such example is the Pediatric Clinic now located in the Bennett Clinic Annex building," Prediger said.

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