A large steel beam is lowered into place for the second story shell of the TCMH expansion project last year. (file photo)

Texas County Memorial Hospital entered the most visible stage of its construction phase thus far, chief executive officer Wes Murray told board members at last week’s monthly meeting.

Throughout the past week, a large crane unloaded several tons of steel that were erected in front of the hospital. The beams construct the shells of the first and second floors of the hospital’s 59,000 square foot expansion.

“There has been a lot of construction work happening for the past few months,” Murray said, “But none of it has been as visible to the public as the crane and the steel construction work.”

Murray explained that many people in the community had commented to him about the operation of the crane. He told board members that he had watched the construction inspector inspect the beams after they are bolted into place.

“Every phase of the construction must meet the inspector’s specifications before construction can move forward,” Murray said.

The large steel construction work will continue through the end of May.

The concrete is also being poured for the floor of the first level.

“Eighty-seven yards of concrete was poured today, and there is still over half of the concrete on the first floor to be completed,” Murray said.

The floor was poured on the north portion of the building last Tuesday.

The crane will move from the south side to the north side of the expansion to accommodate the concrete work that will be done on the south side.

TCMH invited the public to take part in signing a steel beam that will be used in construction.

“The beam we have for signing is one that will be used to connect the new construction to the old portion of the hospital,” Murray said.

The steel beam is painted white and is located on sawhorses next to the TCMH helipad. Hospital staff members have already begun signing the beam, and members of the public are also invited to autograph it before it is used in the construction.

“There is a lot of interest in our construction project,” Murray said, “and the beam signing gives everyone the opportunity to have a permanent connection with the project.”

In addition to the steel beam signing, TCMH is preparing a time capsule to be placed in the ground next to the new construction.

Hospital board members approved aopting a resolution for a Community Development Block Grant application.

On June 4, the Houston City Council will vote to apply for the grant on behalf of TCMH.

Representatives from TCMH will prepare the grant application, which will request funding to construct a multi-functioning community facility in conjunction with a tornado safe room, which has been approved by FEMA. Community Development Block Grants must be approved by and funnels through the city where the funds will go if they are granted.

The TCMH Healthcare Foundation has launched “Care for Your Future,” a $3.2 million capital campaign to construct a new surgical department and the tornado safe room to be attached to the current hospital.

FEMA has already approved $562,000 in federal funds to build the structure, which is 4,000 square feet of climate-controlled space that can be utilized as waiting space during non-threatening weather times.

The room will be capable of sustaining 250 mile-per-hour winds for two hours as well as providing shelter for up to 462 patients, staff members and community residents. Hospital officials say it will enhance the capabilities for triage during times of mass casualty as well as supplying an additional generator with backup power.

TCMH is seeking $299,000 in funding through the grant. If received, the money will be utilized to provide multi-purpose space for community outreach services and to enhance it with things like additional bathrooms that are not covered by the FEMA grant funds.

In other matters:

Murray reported that Dr. Stanley Crown and Christy McIntosh, FNP, will begin working full-time at the TCMH Mountain Grove Clinic in June. A reception was given in their honor, and Dr. Michael Moore, a physician working part time for TCMH, was also honored.

Moore has worked for TCMH in Houston and in Mountain Grove to fill in when a physician was needed. Moore is leaving the Mountain Grove practice when Crown begins working full time at the clinic.

TCMH has ramped up recruiting efforts for the TCMH Family Clinic in Licking. Kim Olving, the physician’s assistant, will continue to work full-time after Dr. John Paulson leaves in mid-July.

“Dr. Jonathan Beers has agreed to help us take care of the patients in the Licking clinic a couple of days a week after he gets here in July,” Murray explained.

Beers, an internal medicine physician, was recruited by TCMH last fall to work full-time at the TCMH Medical Complex in Houston.

“We appreciate Dr. Beers’ willingness to help cover the patient load in Licking,” Murray said, “and we are continuing to recruit for a full-time physician for the clinic.”

TCMH also has potential mid-level providers scheduled to visit the TCMH Medical Complex in the next two weeks.

“Recruiting continues to remain a top priority for us,” Murray said.

Sarah Warner Williams was introduced to those present. Williams, a graduate of Houston High School, is going into her second year of medical school at the University of Missouri.

Williams is working with Dr. Charlie Rasmussen and other physicians at TCMH as part of the “Summer Community Program” for MU medical students.

“TCMH has sponsored students through the MU program for the past four years,” Murray said, describing the program as a way to expose students to rural healthcare in hopes that they will seriously consider practicing in rural America after residency.

“We are pleased that Sarah chose to join TCMH for part of the summer,” Murray said.

Linda Pamperien, chief financial officer at TCMH, presented the financial report for April, which showed a decrease in inpatient and outpatient revenues. Overall expenses were also down for the month.

Hospital inpatient admissions were up by 41 admissions for the year-to-date over 2011.

TCMH had a positive bottom line of $16,083 in April, bringing the year-to-date bottom line to $268,794.

Present at the meeting were Murray; Pamperien; Rasmussen; Williams; Dr. Schaun Flaim, vice chief of staff; Doretta Todd-Willis, chief nursing officer, Joleen Senter Durham, director of public relations; and board members Omanez Fockler, Dr. Jim Perry, OD, Mark Hampton and Janet Wiseman. Board member Mark Forbes was absent.

The next meeting of the TCMH board of trustees is noon Tuesday, June 26, in the downstairs meeting room of the hospital.

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