SLAYTON -- Murray County Medical Center staff members gathered at the entrance of the facility Tuesday afternoon to watch the groundbreaking ceremony marking the beginning of a 17-month expansion project.
If all goes well, Murray County Medical Center (MCMC) will have a brand new look by October 2013.
"The staff has continued to give during this process," MCMC Chief Executive Officer Mel Snow said in remarks before the ceremony. "There were two years that everybody went without (pay) raises to get us to the point where we are at now. To me, this facility is yours."
Individuals representing the construction management company, Parsons, and architecture firm, TSP, joined Snow and several hospital representatives for Tuesday's groundbreaking.
The project will encompass a 34,000 square-foot addition primarily to the east side of the building.
A variety of changes and improvements will come with the expansion.
Upon completion of the project, the front lobby will combine the entrances of the clinic and the hospital, which are now separate.
"It will have a drive-up entrance with centralized registration," said Shari Achterhoff, MCMC's chief nursing officer.
Hospital employees, visitors and patients will have two dining options.
The lobby will house a coffee shop that will be managed by Left Bank Café.
In addition, the dietary department will serve meals at the dining room. Meals will be prepared on-site in the new kitchen.
Facility-wise, the clinic -- which accommodates the rural health and surgery clinics -- will be expanded for more physician office space and additional exam rooms.
Adjacent to the clinic, the radiology department will accommodate in-house MRI and mammogram services. Achterhoff explained MCMC has purchased its own MRI equipment. Both these services are currently being provided via mobile trucks.
An improvement Achterhoff said she is excited about is private patient rooms that will be situated in a wing of their own. Fourteen new private patient rooms will be constructed with attached bathrooms, and several rooms will have ceiling lifts to assist staff members in lifting immobile patients. The facility currently has 11 patient rooms, some of which are shared by patients.
"Having the in-patient wing will be more peaceful and restful," she said. "Right now, it's in the middle of everything."
Other improvements will include a new pharmacy with a larger area for storage and preparation of medicine, as well as a room exclusively for physical therapy. Patients currently undergo physical therapy in their rooms or the hallways.
"That will definitely be a very welcomed addition for the physical and occupational therapy department," Achterhoff said.
The construction bid awarded last week was about $1.9 million below the project budget of approximately $14 million, Snow explained. Approximately 60 percent of the project will be paid in cash using hospital reserves. The remaining dollars will be funded by loans from local banks, Snow detailed.
"We don't receive tax dollars from the county, so no tax dollars are involved," he said.
Construction is scheduled to begin April 15. During construction, people can access the building from the north entrance by the clinic. Remodeling of the clinics is expected to be completed by November, with other improvements to follow suit during the duration of the project.
Daily Globe Reporter Ana Anthony can be reached at 376-7321.