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Completion of Poplar Bluff hospital slated for January
POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- A new date for completing construction of the $173 million Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center was announced during the Topping Out Celebration Wednesday.
"We are very excited to announce we will open the doors and begin operations in January 2013," said Charles Stewart, market chief executive officer for PBRMC and the Missouri Region. "This is more than a year earlier than originally announced."
Stewart thanked everyone "for joining us as we celebrate this milestone of placing the final beam in our new hospital," which has 425,000 square feet and 250 private rooms.
"This is more than double the size of our current facility," said Stewart, who cited the expansion of the emergency room depart- ment, enhanced technology, expanded services and easier access with four lanes on all sides. The new medical center is located on a 62-acre site on the south side of Oak Grove Road between Bypass 67 and Shelby Road.
After remarks by four others under a tent in the parking lot, a crane lifted a white beam onto the area over the stairwell at the northwest corner of the seven-story structure with a basement. The beam was signed by PBRMC employees and those attending the event.
Two ironworkers moved the beam into its place as the crowd applauded. Bo Jones, a worker from Tennessee, stood up on another beam and bowed.
Dr. Austin Tinsley, PBRMC chief medical officer, thanked and congratulated Health Management Associates, which owns the hospital, for its "commitment to construct this spectacular structure in order to provide the best patient care in Southeast Missouri."
Tinsley recalled there were three hospitals when he arrived in Poplar Bluff in 1973 -- Lucy Lee, Poplar Bluff and Doctors.
HMA purchased the current hospital on Nov. 1, 2003, according to Tinsley. He commended HMA for "adding services and recruiting quality physicians so people did not have to seek care outside of Poplar Bluff."
"I can't tell you how delighted I am to be here to celebrate this milestone," said Ann Barnhart, HMA Western Division president from Naples, Fla. "I could not be more proud to be associated with this community and personally witness how everyone pulled together to make the best decisions for this community."
In a declining national economy, Barnhart noted Poplar Bluff is among a few places that are adding jobs, technology and improving medical care. She said PBRMC is an accredited chest pain center and is among the top six hospitals in Missouri for positive outcomes for open heart surgery.
"I am looking forward to a gala celebration and cutting the ribbon to open the new hospital in January," Barnhart said.
Stewart said Steve Halter, president of the Greater Poplar Bluff Area Chamber of Commerce, "played an instrumental part in making this project a reality."
Halter thanked the community for "rallying behind this project" and "not giving up" during the Missouri certificate of need process that required three trips to Jefferson City.
He emphasized construction of the new medical center is "a direct reflection of the four laning of U.S. Highways 60 and 67."
"We thought it probably would not happen this quickly," Halter said.
Having 525 workers on the project has been "a large economic impact" on Poplar Bluff, according to Halter.
"Our business community is having a great year," he added. "This project will restore Poplar Bluff as the medical hub for our region."
He also cited the improved safety for children and adults going to the 5th & 6th Grade Center and Oak Grove Elementary School when Oak Grove Road is expanded to five lanes and an interchange is created at Bypass 67.
"Seven months ago, we broke ground. Imagine the excitement eight months from now when we are opening the door," Halter said as he thanked HMA and PBRMC officials for "this great addition to our community."
He also thanked Tiffany Jenkins, PBRMC director of marketing/community relations, for "putting this event together."
Randy Holly, HMA vice president of construction and design, presented the construction statistics and what will be on each floor (see other story).
"We expect to have 600 workers at the site by the end of June," Holly said. "There are two shifts, working 24/7."
The Poplar Bluff High School Junior ROTC presented the colors following an invocation by the Rev. Annette Joseph of the Holy Cross Episcopal Church, who is the hospital volunteer chaplain.
Austin McWilliams, Tanner Puckett, Landon Jones and Kolby Sowell, comprising The 4 Tenors from the Poplar Bluff High School Concert Choir, sang the national anthem.
Music also was presented by the Three Rivers College Jazz Band and food was served by the hospital dietary staff.