July 24, 2012

MaineGeneral Medical Center: Final beam installed in new hospital 'topping out' ceremony

Regional hospital slated to open Dec. 7, 2013, six months ahead of the original timetable.

By Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- The white steel beam bearing the colorful signatures of hundreds of employees, visitors, donors, patients and construction workers rose slowly.

click image to enlarge

Staff photo by Joe Phelan Workers record the final beam being lifted into place during the topping out ceremony on Monday morning at the construction site of Maine General Medical Center's new regional hospital in north Augusta. The beam was signed by many people and the tree was dug up from and will be returned to the site.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

click image to enlarge

Staff photo by Joe Phelan Construction worker Tyler Bartlett autographs the final beam before it gets lifted into place before topping out ceremony on Monday morning at the construction site of Maine General Medical Center's new regional hospital in north Augusta.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Additional Photos Below

A MaineGeneral Medical Center banner unfurled beneath it, prompting applause and a brief "whoop whoop" from a fire engine siren.

Then the crane operator neatly placed the beam, which sported an American flag and a small fir tree between two rust-colored beams. Holes were lined up and John Milbrand, construction manager for MaineGeneral Health, wearing white safety gloves, inserted the first two bolts.

The topping-out ceremony -- signaling that the building skeleton for the new multimillion-dollar hospital in north Augusta had reached its height -- took place under a sunny sky and in front of more than 600 hard-hatted people Monday morning at the site, which is off Old Belgrade Road and next to the Alfond Center for Cancer Care.

"The ride was great," Milbrand said, shortly after leaving the bucket of the boom truck. He said he installed one bolt at each end. "The contractors did the hard work of getting them lined up."

Site work began last August, and the regional hospital now is slated to open Dec. 7, 2013, a full six months ahead of the original timetable.

The ceremony on Monday was watched by a sea of people in fluorescent orange and green T-shirts, colorful hard hats and loose-fitting safety vests. Steel-toed boots helped distinguish the workers from the visitors, and many of both had cameras and cellphones in hand to record the historic moment.

A barbecue lunch then was held for the 570 project workers, who ate at tables and on folding chairs inside the 640,000-square-foot building still under construction.

"It's a heartfelt thank you," said Scott Bullock, chief executive officer of MaineGeneral Health, the hospital's parent organization. He reminded people it had been exactly 10 months since the formal groundbreaking ceremony took place -- when he had called out, "Drive that pile."

Monday's direction was a little different: "Drive that beam."

He described the new hospital as "a showplace, but more importantly, a healing place for patients and their families."

'Coming home'

MaineGeneral Medical Center's president and chief executive officer, Chuck Hays, told the crowd Monday that the adoption of the integrated project delivery model -- in which the hospital, the architects, and the contractors work together on the construction and design -- made that achievement possible.

"We focused on companies that are progressive thinkers, work well as a team, and whose philosophy and culture mesh well," he said.

Calling it "the largest health-care construction project in the state's history," Hays said the aim was to employ Maine workers. On Monday, John Scott, senior vice president of H.P. Cummings, said 89 percent of the workers were from Maine and 96 percent from New England.

Scott estimated the building is now 40 percent complete.

When open, the 192-bed hospital will replace the inpatient functions at MaineGeneral Medical Center's Thayer campus in Waterville as well as the hospital on East Chestnut Street in Augusta.

The cost of entire hospital project, including financing, is estimated at $412 million, including $10 million in improvements for the Thayer campus.

Hays talked about the messages on the final beam, including one from the people who formerly farmed the land flanked by Interstate 95 and Old Belgrade Road. They wrote "Coming home. The Dostie Family."

Aaron Ouellette, of Litchfield, an electrical worker installing telecommunications lines, signed his son's name, Kolton, in honor of the boy's first birthday Monday.

"Pete Cote" and "Jimmy G" were inked on the underside of the beam; there were hearts, "in memory" notations, and references to "4E," an area of the hospital.

(Continued on page 2)

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors


Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Staff photo by Joe Phelan Workers record the final beam being lifted into place during the topping out ceremony on Monday morning at the construction site of Maine General Medical Center's new regional hospital in north Augusta. The beam was signed by many people and the tree was dug up from and will be returned to the site.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

click image to enlarge

Staff photo by Joe Phelan Chip Pocock, of Buckner Steel Erection, watches as the final beam is lifted into place during the topping out ceremony on Monday morning at the construction site of Maine General Medical Center's new regional hospital in north Augusta. The beam was signed by many people and the tree was dug up from and will be returned to the site.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

click image to enlarge

Staff photo by Joe Phelan John Milbrand, construction manager for the new regional hospital, on right in lift, put in the bolts on the final beam during the topping out ceremony on Monday morning at the construction site of Maine General Medical Center's new regional hospital in north Augusta. The beam was signed by many people and the tree was dug up from and will be returned to the site.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

click image to enlarge

John Milbrand, construction manager for the new regional hospital, on right in lift, put in the bolts on the final beam during the topping off ceremony on this morning at the construction site of Maine General Medical Center's new regional hospital in north Augusta. The beam was signed by many people and the tree was dug up from and will be returned to the site.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

  


Further Discussion

Here at KJonline.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)