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We're growing

 By Toni Garrard Clay
Athens Expansion Overview 

Since ETMC Athens kicked off its expansion project this past winter, plenty has been accomplished, though much of it isn’t apparent to casual observers.

“The bulk of what’s happened to date has been underground,” said Steve Lowe, director of engineering and safety at ETMC Athens. “They have installed all the underground plumbing works and all the foundational elements, and they’re starting to pour the concrete floor.”

A retaining wall has also been built on the west side of the building, which will serve as a basement wall. The $32.4 million, two-year project will take place in a series of phases as the southwest corner of the hospital is expanded with a 55,600-square-foot wraparound. Twelve thousand square feet of existing space will be remodeled.

While the substantial underground work may not be eye-catching, the massive stationary crane on site certainly is. The hook of the crane stands 89 feet off the ground. At a maximum reach of 246 feet, the crane is able to lift a load of up to 6,170 pounds. With the load next to the base of the crane, it has a lift capacity of up to 25,000 pounds.

“The reach of the boom is important because, at some point, it must be able to reach across existing building,” said ETMC Athens Administrator Pat Wallace.

The goal for completion has been set for the fourth quarter of 2011, and, according to Lowe, they’re off to a good start.

“We’re very excited that after so many years, this expansion is finally coming to fruition,” said Wallace. “This hospital wowed people when it opened in 1986, and we believe what we’re adding here will wow them all over again.

Upon completion, the expanded portion of the hospital will have required 100 tons of rebar, 6,745 cubic yards of concrete and 14,777 square feet of exterior glazed glass. In addition, the project requires 108,500 feet of conduit, 91 miles of wire and 32 tons of copper.

The first order of business in the project is to complete the new emergency department, which is scheduled to open this time next year. The brand new ER will boast 22 spacious exam rooms, including two state-of-the-art trauma rooms and a spacious, private waiting area. Outside the new emergency room, a multi-lane canopy will provide shelter for two ambulances and from six to eight cars at a time.

Occupying the very corner of the new space will be the intensive care unit, which will have two more patient beds than its current eight.

The third department to occupy the new space will be surgery, where there will be a new prep-and-hold area, five operating rooms (up from the current three), a recovery area and day surgery space.

Once the ICU is relocated into the new space, the OB department will expand its footprint to include the area currently being occupied by the ICU. Among the gains for the OB department will be eight additional “labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum” rooms. The department currently has one LDRP room, which provides a spacious environment where expectant moms can, in most cases, stay throughout their hospital stay. All the existing postpartum rooms will be refurbished.

The radiology department will also expand, thanks to space made available by the adjustment of departments.

The front parking lots have already been expanded, and visitors may have already noticed a courtesy patrol to assist, as needed, individuals using the emergency and front parking lots.

Originally posted June 25 2010