Peach celebrates last piece of hospital steel

BYRON -- As “God Bless the USA” played over loudspeakers Wednesday afternoon, a crane hoisted a steel beam painted white and covered with signatures.

The crane operator slowly guided it toward the two construction workers perched on top of the steel frame of what will become Peach Regional Medical Center. After the workers attached the beam and released the crane cable, dozens of people watching from the ground applauded the milestone toward achievement of a longtime dream.

The beam was the last piece of the steel frame of the hospital. Local officials gathered for the “topping off” ceremony said construction is going well. The building is on track for scheduled completion in June, said Elbert McQueen, regional services vice president of Central Georgia Health System, the umbrella organization for The Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon.

Construction on the $28 million facility began in May after the Peach County Hospital Authority formed a partnership with Central Georgia Health System to operate the hospital.

Nancy Peed, chief executive officer of Peach Regional, said seeing the frame of the building up allows a chance to visualize what it will become.

“I’m thinking about what it’s going to be like to treat that first patient, to save that first patient and to get on with the healing business of health care in this beautiful new facility we are going to have,” Peed told those in attendance just before the beam was lifted into place.

The hospital is located on the Ga. 247 Connector just west of Interstate 75. At 68,000 square feet, it will be roughly 15,000 square feet larger than the current facility in Fort Valley.

Helen Rhea Stumbo, who chairs the capital campaign for the hospital, announced hospital employees had a goal of raising $75,000 for the hospital and shattered that by raising $112,860. She noted the employees haven’t had a raise in three years.

Don Faulk, chief executive officer of The Medical Center of Central Georgia, said the partnership is working well.

“This represents a greater community partnership,” Faulk said. “Bibb and Peach County have a long history, and this is one of those larger community kind of things. ... Everybody is coming to the table and finding out we’ve really got a good thing here.”

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.