The next chapter in Schneck Medical Center’s history has begun.
Gathering in frigid temperatures, Schneck administrators and employees, city and county officials and the public congregated Tuesday near the visitors entrance to the Seymour hospital for a groundbreaking ceremony for the largest expansion in its 107-year history.
The ceremony took place near the future site of a $44 million project that includes a five-story, 80,000-square-foot medical building and a five-level parking garage that will add more than 400 parking spaces to the main campus at 411 W. Tipton St.
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Warren Forgey, president and chief executive officer, said it was satisfying to see the project officially move a step toward construction.
“This works toward our goal of providing the best care for our communities and now the best facilities to help us accomplish that mission,” Forgey said following the groundbreaking.
He said the hospital has evolved into something much larger than a hospital.
“Schneck is more than a hospital. Schneck is a health care delivery system,” he told the crowd.
Forgey said construction for the medical building is slated to begin in early February.
Rick Smith, president of the Schneck board of trustees, described the moment as “historic” for Schneck and the community.
“It’s going to also provide exceptional value to all those that we serve in health care,” he said.
The project is part of the hospital’s commitment to provide the best health care possible, Smith said.
“Today, you’re seeing that commitment come to life,” he said. “This expansion will strengthen our ability to meet the needs of our community, our patients and will enhance the overall patient experience.”
The project is funded by the hospital’s ability to set aside funds following its last expansion in 2009, which constructed the Don and Dana Myers Cancer Center and five-story south wing, Forgey said.
He said Schneck planned for that facility to meet the needs over the next 15 years, but the hospital now is in position for additional growth.
“Now, just nine years later, additional facilities are now necessary in order to improve access to health care services as we focus on improving the health of our communities,” he said.
The expansion will bring 29 additional physicians and their support staff. Those physicians will mainly focus on family practice and general surgeons, he said, which will improve access to care.
“We have folks that are unable to access health care on the frequency they need, so we will be able to meet that need,” he said.
The need for improving access to care was discovered following the completion of a community health assessment in 2015.
Smith said that assessment indicated the public’s desire for more options.
“Our patients want greater access to medical care, more local options for local health care providers and convenient access to all those we serve,” he said.
Forgey said at the time of Schneck’s formation, care was provided in one building on Poplar Street and included 17 beds. There were two babies born, 126 inpatient admissions and 94 surgeries performed during its first year in 1911. The cost for the facility and its equipment was $23,000.
By comparison, Schneck now has nine facilities in four counties, and its main campus has 94 patient suites.
Forgey said 4,500 inpatient admissions and overnight observations were completed in 2017, 730 babies were brought into the world and more than 6,000 surgeries were performed.
This past year, there were more than 30,000 patients in the emergency room, while Schneck’s lab completed more than 900,000 tests and 60,000 radiology exams.
For all Schneck locations, more than 150,000 patient visits were recorded. The hospital employs more than 1,000 and has a staff of 140 physicians.
City officials approved a variance for the parking garage last week to permit the construction of the garage. They also approved height and distance variances to accommodate the construction.
The garage also will substantially grow the number of parking spaces. The garage will offer 384 spaces, and there will be additional staff parking created near the garage for an overall increase of 427 spaces. It is the first parking garage in the city.
Patients will be able to access the new medical office building from all five floors of the parking garage, which will be open and free during the hours physicians are seeing patients. There will be a gate for security after hours, but visitors will still be able to use the garage.
The architect is arcDESIGN, and Pepper Construction is the contractor.
Other building projects were completed in 1956, 1971 and 1993.
The last major expansions that occurred at the hospital involved the construction of the $9.2 million Don and Dana Myers Cancer Center, completed in August 2007, and a $60 million expansion that added 82,000 square feet to allow for a larger emergency area and an expanded outpatient center, imaging department, laboratory and parking, completed in July 2008.