Veterans hospital construction continues despite weather delays

Thursday, September 30, 2010 | 12:02 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Construction of a $25 million project that includes a new operating room at Truman Veterans Hospital in Columbia has resumed its earlier pace after rains caused seven months of delays. 

The first phase of construction for a suite of operating rooms was scheduled to be finished in November. More rain than expected throughout the year, however, delayed construction. 

The most recent estimate for the completion of the first phase of construction is June 2011, Stephen Gaither of the public affairs office said. 

The new operating room will replace the operating room suite that's 37 years old. The first phase of the project will add 27,000 square feet of new space.  The second and third phases will renovate an additional 12,000 square feet, Gaither said. 

The project will add a separate building that will be attached to the original medical center.  The new building will contain five operating rooms and storage rooms.

The existing space is being renovated for patient recovery and areas for preparation and recovery of same-day surgeries. The renovation is split into two phases so that part of the space will remain functioning during the process.   

“Surgery has changed dramatically. More equipment is used, takes up space and uses power and lighting. This is addressed by the project and helped justify the project,” Gaither said. 

The veteran hospital serves as the cardiac referral center for Kansas, Missouri and Illinois. 

There have been no delays other than those caused by weather, Gaither said. 

Kelly Hequembourg, project manager for River City Construction, said crews should finish pouring concrete for the building's structure by Oct. 21.

The workers have a flexible schedule and sometimes work odd hours to minimize disruptions at the hospital, Hequembourg said.

“Overall, the project itself is a tough project with a very small site and a lot of work going on in a small area, but it’s progressing well,” Hequembourg said. 

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