Memorial Hospital in Gulfport has been ranked as the number one hospital in the State of Mississippi by U.S. News & World Report. The hospital and Roy Anderson Corp kicked off construction today on the first phase of their Main Patient Tower Project, which will add two new floors with larger and more modern patient rooms.
On the same day Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, the board of directors at Memorial Hospital at Gulfport was scheduled to vote on an expansion of the main patient tower. "We kind of chuckled about it as we recovered from the storm that was probably the shortest-lived five-year capital plan that any organization had ever done," said president and CEO, Gary Marchand. Nearly 10 years later, hospital leaders are seeing that plan come to fruition. Local officials and hospital employees gathered in the main atrium lobby to hear details of the $50-million project, as well as tour models of the new patient rooms.
The five-story, mostly brick building will get a makeover inside and out. A glass and tile facade will match the existing West Tower, two floors will be added and modernized and larger patient rooms will eventually fill the third through seventh floors. "That main tower is the densest concentration of medical beds in the service area," said Marchand. Built in the '70s and '80s, the tower was built to hold seven floors but not designed for the constantly emerging technological equipment that is now wheeled in and out of each room.
The new rooms will be 50 percent larger to accommodate more equipment as well as more people. "The rooms will be less congested, there will be more space for family and visitors, more comfortable lounging equipment to better accommodate overnight visits," he said. Because the rooms will be larger, the net increase in the number of rooms will only be 24, which is the maximum that the hospital is licensed for through the state.
Fred Garguilo, vice president of administrative services who is overseeing the project, said the glass shell can withstand up to 135 mph winds and is built to international standards. "That West Tower did fine during Katrina," said Marchand. "What we lost was some of the black tile, not the glass." He said the glass will also solve some of the leaking issues the building has had during storms with strong east winds. Funding for the $50 million project is coming from cash reserves and the future operations budget.
Marchand said $19 million in bids have been awarded to area companies. "All of the construction activity is new economic activity for the Coast," he said. The expansions set to be complete by early 2017.