Herald/TJ MAXWELL - Members of the Metroplex Heath System, along with family members of retired Brig. Gen. Jack Hemingway and Harker Heights, Copperas Cove and Killeen Chamber of Commerces pose for a ribbon cutting at the grand opening ceremony of the new 90,000 square-foot Hemingway Medical Building on Monday.

By Colleen Flaherty

Killeen Daily Herald

Metroplex Hospital got 90,000 square feet larger Monday, on budget and on schedule, with the opening of the new Hemingway Building.

The $23 million project, for which ground at the corner of Clear Creek Road and Bell Tower Drive was broken last October, will allow specialists to come to their patients, rather than the other way around, said Dr. Reddy Beeram, Scott & White Hospital's head of pediatrics.

Metroplex has partnered with Scott & White Healthcare for the past several years.

"This is a great facility," Beeram said during a public tour Monday. "With some of their services before, they (patients) had to travel to Temple or Austin to get things done."

The building, which is three times larger than early plans indicated, features a six-bed, state-of-the-art endoscopy center on the first floor, various specialty offices on the second floor, and a kid-friendly pediatric wing on the third floor.

In total, the building will house 14 specialty services, including orthopedics, gastroenterology, cardiology and urology.

Nurse Karen Sugg said the new endoscopy center, across the street from her old office, has double the beds of the old center and offers patients more privacy.

A native of Central Texas and a 10-year veteran of Metroplex, she has seen the area grow rapidly, putting greater demands on the hospital.

"Hospitals are like highways," she said. "Once you finish one set of repairs, you've got to start on one somewhere else, or you're going to be behind. Metroplex has done a good job at that."

Family members of the late retired Brig. Gen. Jack Hemingway, who served on the Metroplex Board of Trustees for 30 years, were on hand to supervise a ribbon-cutting Monday and hear kind words about the man after whom the building is named.

Former Metroplex Chief Executive Ken Finch, who is now the chairman of the board of directors of Metroplex Adventist Hospital, credited Hemingway with Metroplex's current success in serving the community.

"'We have to grow Metroplex,' along with the Scott & White partnership," Finch said, quoting Hemingway's regular advice.

Hemingway died in 2008.

He was a visionary in regard to the area's military and economic development, Finch said, with a character that made people look up to him.

Current Chief Executive Carlyle Walton presented Hemingway's widow, Shirley, with a bouquet of flowers and a commemorative plaque. A portrait of the general will hang in the lobby of the building, which could be open for business by Monday.

Contact Colleen Flaherty at colleenf@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.

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