ARDMORE, Okla. -- It was an exciting day in Carter County as executives with Mercy Memorial Medical Center made it official that construction on the new wing is underway. Robin Beal was there and has more from Ardmore.
Area residents clearly have high hopes for the new multi-million dollar hospital improvements. You could definitely say excitement was in the air.
It was billed as “an extreme groundbreaking,” not a shovel in sight, and that's just how executives with Ardmore’s Mercy Hospital wanted it.
"We waited until we had the stuff already happening. It isn't out in the middle of a field and somebody breaking ground. We've got the equipment out there so instead of using shovels, I said some of us would run that equipment, but they wouldn't let us, " Mercy Medical Center CEO Bob Thompson joked.
Thursday's ceremony marked the official start of construction on the new patient tower. Five floors plus a basement will 158 private rooms, a woman's health center, and a new intensive care unit. It should all be completed over the next two years.
Bill Owen is helping oversee the massive project. He says the expected improvements include more than just brick and mortar.
"Technology for all patient records, so that you can come in with a history of having been a patient before. Records will now be available without having to fill out all the forms again."
A project years in the making costing more than $60 million, officials say this will be one of the most state-of-the-art health care centers in southern Oklahoma.
One of the things making this project unique is the funding. One-third of the total cost -- $22 million – was pledged by local businesses and individuals, several of whom attended the ceremony.
But what visitor made the longest journey to participate in Thursday’s dedication? The answer is a bowl of Holy Water, all the way from the Vatican in Rome. The Sisters Of Charity used it to bless the site where the new tower will stand.
It was quite a sight today, and you can expect to see a lot of new faces coming to town soon, including construction workers, and later more doctors and support staff.
Best estimates are that it will take between 300-400 people to build the new wing, and presumably about half of those will come from out of town.