By Kim Steele
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS - Pam Craig could hardly contain her excitement Monday as she toured the finished patient rooms on the second floor of Seton Medical Center Harker Heights.
Craig, the new hospital's chief nursing officer, eagerly pointed out the amenities her nurses will be able to use when the hospital opens June 18.
Those perks include a call system for patients that communicates with their nurse's cell phones, in-room computers and medicine cabinets, and hallway closets filled with various supplies.
"It's been a real honor to be involved in this and I'm incredibly excited," said Craig, who suggested the improvements. "The hospital has been very responsive to our need for state-of-the-art equipment. This has been an incredible opportunity to build a hospital that's organized and efficient and has the patient at its center."
Construction activity at the three-story building, which measures 192,400 square feet and has three floors, is winding down as its completion date moves closer. On Monday, workers trimmed out rooms, installed data cables, painted hallways and installed a sprinkler system in the ground around the building. The building's artwork will arrive April 9.
The hospital, which is painted in earth tones of tan, brown and green, features a water wall in the main lobby, as well as a coffee shop called Divine Perks and a cafeteria named Elizabeth's run by chef Rob Pasichynik, who will be relocating from Providence Hospital in Waco.
Jeremy Hobbs, senior project manager for Layton Construction in Brentwood, Tenn., said the hospital's glass windows have been in place for about six weeks, and sod is due to arrive this week. Hobbs said construction has been on time and within budget, thanks to a hard-working group of local subcontractors working six or seven days a week.
"This is a phenomenal and beautiful facility," said Hobbs. "It's definitely looking like a hospital now. There's a lot of cosmetic stuff that still needs to be done, as well as city and state inspections, but everything is slated to be complete by mid-April. I really am proud of this project and it's important because this is a place of healing."
The hospital will feature 83 licensed beds, a full-service emergency department, an intensive care unit, women's services, medical and surgical services, imaging and diagnostic, a cath lab, surgical suites and a helipad.
The $100 million project is expected to create 1,967 new jobs by 2022 and have an estimated economic impact of $1.5 billion by then.
Hobbs said the second floor, which houses patient rooms, was finished about a month ago, and the emergency room's 17 rooms were completed two weeks ago. The hospital includes 10 intensive care rooms, four operating rooms and eight large labor, delivery, recovery and post-partum rooms that are nearing completion.
"There's always a challenge with any construction project, and the biggest challenge here was getting it done quickly," said Hobbs. "We broke ground about this time last year, and that's pretty fast. And we didn't have any bad weather that shut production down. Everything was conducive to construction."
Human Resources Director Mona Tucker said she has hired 20 supervisors, directors and managers so far, as well as 20 clinical staff who are building the hospital's electronic medical records. Another 10 employees for radiology, respiratory therapy and the lab are slated to start work on April 30, and more will be added quickly.
Tucker said a total of 270 employees will be in place by the end of April, and an orientation for them will take place April 30. Interviews have been set for environmental and food services, and will begin next week for staff nurses. Besides hiring employees, Tucker said she and staff now working out of trailers will be moving into their new offices in about two weeks.
"Preparing for the hospital's opening is like birthing a baby," said Tucker. "You go through all the stages of pregnancy. Right now, we're nesting and getting everything ready for the move. We're cleaning and getting ready to pack up."
Chief Executive Officer Matt Maxfield said he has watched the hospital and its team of employees come together and has been pleased with the results. Maxfield said the construction contractors and engineers have worked hard to meet the needs of the staff and patients who will use the new hospital.
"I am so excited to get in the building and put the equipment and supplies together, then have the patients come in so we can take care of them," said Maxfield. "It's going to take a lot of work to get ready. We still have 250 employees to hire, train and get on board. There are so many details to work out still, but we have a good plan in place."
Contact Kim Steele at email@example.com or (254) 501-7567.
How to apply for Seton jobs
To apply for open positions at Seton Medical Center Harker Heights, go to setonharkerheights.org to submit a resume.