An artistic rendering of the front façade of the new The Memorial Hospital.

Earl Swensson Associates/courtesy

An artistic rendering of the front façade of the new The Memorial Hospital.

Curtain goes up

Public catches early look at new The Memorial Hospital


— An early look at architectural plans and renderings of a proposed new The Memorial Hospital were met with generally positive reviews from the public Thursday night at the Holiday Inn of Craig.

"I thought it was very good," Craig resident Raymond Magness said. "I like the way it's laid out. The main entrance - the way it looks - is very eye-catching.

"It'll be a tremendous improvement over the old building, that's for sure."

His wife, Patsy Magness, echoed similar sentiments.

"I think the layout is just perfect," she said. "I can't wait to see it finished."

TMH officials and architects from Earl Swensson Associates, a Nashville, Tenn., firm, presented the facility's floor and site plans, as well as exterior and interior renderings, to about 30 to 40 residents.

George Rohrich, TMH chief executive officer, asked the audience for its opinion following the short presentation. Their response: applause and mixed calls of "great" and "fantastic."

When forming the design, Rohrich said hospital officials, community members and architects strived to present a building with little frills and most of the emphasis placed on patient rooms.

"This isn't anything overdone," Rohrich said of the design. "It just feels really good.

"We really tried to stay true to promises in the design made during the campaign," Rohrich added, referring to TMH's efforts leading up to the November 2007 election that secured about 50 percent of the new facility's estimated $42.6 million cost.

Cheryl Nitch, of Earl Swensson, presented the floor and site plans and color exterior renderings.

She said the 300-room building was designed tailored to the community's health care needs with future expansion capabilities, particularly in the clinical areas.

Half the facility contains clinical departments situated near each other on the building's perimeter, where they can easily be expanded to accommodate future growth, she said.

The exterior is made of stone, brick, stucco and has a standing seam metal roof, Nitch said.

The main entrance is on the building's southeast end and just inside sits the front desk and lobby area. Branching off the lobby corridor are clinical areas for surgery, laboratory, diagnostics and the emergency room.

Abby Weilmuenster, an Earl Swensson interior designer, presented the interior renderings, shown Thursday in black and white. The interior's color scheme was recently approved, she said, and future renderings will reflect the inside tones of the building.

She said architects worked closely with TMH nursing staff to develop the patient rooms - each has a zone for nurses, the patient, a family member and a private bathroom - which were designed for both function and comfort.

The rooms are an "unthreatening environment for family and patients," Weilmuenster said, and have a feel similar to a hotel room rather than a cold, hard surface hospital room.

The remaining 50 percent of the building's cost will come through financing. TMH is applying to the Department of Housing and Urban Development to guarantee the loan.

The HUD application is in the final stages of preparation, Rohrich said, and should be sent off in about a week. The HUD guarantee is important, the CEO added, because it ensures the community won't be left with the bill in the unlikely event that the hospital defaults on its loan.

The money county taxpayers approved in the November 2007 election is "all they will ever have to provide for this hospital," Rohrich said.

"It will never increase," he said. "The hospital can never come back to the taxpayers for more funds."

In about a month, Rohrich anticipates TMH receiving preliminary HUD approval, an action that essentially allows new facility site work to begin.

Construction could begin this summer, Rohrich said, with a timeline indicating the facility could be finished by October 2009.

The new facility's architectural renderings and floor and site plans will be on display beginning Monday and for the next several months inside the hospital's lobby.


grannyrett 8 years, 11 months ago

Beautiful! A building we can all be proud of. What an asset to the community. I can just see it on the hill.


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