Excitement filled the empty room of beams and studs as hospital officials got their first peek of the new expansion.
"This is a big place, isn't it?" asked one person.
"Yes," replied several others.
"That's nice," said another.
Firelands Regional Medical Center unveiled its $147 million building expansion project to a group of more than 150 physicians, board members and management staff at a "sneak peek" event Thursday evening.
It was a casual affair with hospital officials and guests enjoying drinks and finger foods in the Mylander Conference Center. A slideshow of interior and exterior hospital shots visually entertained people in the background as they mingled with one another.
It was a day worth celebrating.
Construction on the 182,000-square foot project, which began in early 2005, is right on schedule and the slated completion date is still set for June next year.
The energetic crowd was ready to begin the first tour of the project.
Introducing the animated crowd to each floor was like discovering a new color.
Laughter and excitement echoed in between beams as people chatted about the future of the hospital. Many carried copies of the floor plans to fully understand where everything would go.
The ground level, although soaked in certain parts due to Thursday's rain showers, was a spectacle. Balloons in yellow and black highlighted the locations of the new cafe, gift shop, information desk and main entrance.
Tami Jackson, senior vice president and chief nursing officer for the hospital, signed her name on the floor where the new information desk would go, as friends and co-workers cheered and clapped. Several people who donated significant amounts of money to the hospital signed the concrete floors and beams during the tours. Donors will be honored with plaques that will hang throughout the new east tower once it is complete.
The five-story patient tower will add 74 new patient rooms, most of which will be private. The new expansion will also allow the hospital to add space for support services. The emergency room will be expanded and the hospital's heart institute will be relocated to the first floor.
The second floor will hold 13 operating rooms, and recovery bays will also be housed on the same floor. Patient rooms will be located on the third and fourth floors. The fifth floor will remain empty for future expansion.
Mock patient rooms were created at the hospital's south campus and physicians and nurses were given the chance to "try out" the design and submit comments on any changes they would like to see made.
Allowing the physicians and nurses to voice their opinions on the mock patient rooms gives the hospital the chance to make the individual rooms "the best it could be," said physician and board member Rick Keller.
Keller said he is looking forward to having private rooms as options for patients.
Disturbing patients routinely, Keller said the addition of private rooms would ensure patients "a restful environment."
Jean Miller examined the enlarged photos of the mock rooms on display on the third floor of the tower.
"It's mind-boggling," said Miller, as she continued her way down the hall. "It's come so far."
Miller, who has volunteered at the hospital (and at the previous Memorial Hospital) for more than 50 years, said she was impressed with everything.
"I'm excited we're able to do this," Miller said, who also is a member of the hospital's board of directors.
Leaving the building of the new expansion, dusty footprints and faint sounds of chatter followed as the evening of celebration ended.