Employees with Layton Construction put the final beam in place for the construction of the new Unicoi County Memorial Hospital. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Kendal Groner)

By Kendal Groner

About a year from now when people walk into the main lobby of the new Unicoi County Memorial Hospital they will be standing under the steel beam that bears the signatures of dedicated hospital staff as well as the individuals instrumental in the planning and design of the new facility.

On Monday, Nov. 20, Layton construction crew placed the final steel beam on the new facility located at 2030 Temple Hill Road in Erwin. Members of Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA), community members and hospital staff gathered to witness the milestone event for the new hospital. Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA) acquired UCMH in 2013, and has since worked diligently with local officials and stakeholders to ensure the completion of the new 40,000-square-foot facility

“One of the best parts of this is that our team members have got to put a stamp on this new facility,” said Eric Carroll, Unicoi County Memorial Hospital administrator. “This truly is symbolic because a lot of the people that are back at the hospital and in the crowd today have already put their stamp on the current facility through their dedication and the hard work that they do for us every single day.”

The steel beam was first signed a few weeks ago by Paulette Edwards, a hospital employee for over 50 years, who was also present to see the steel beam put into place. Following the most senior hospital employees signing the beam, it was left at the current facility to give all staff members a chance to permanently place their marks on the new facility.

Board members, senior executives, volunteers, team members and members of the vision committee were given the opportunity to sign the beam on Monday before it was raised by crane and placed atop the new facility.

“To watch this happen is really a validation for all of the effort and planning that’s gone into making this hospital a reality,” Carroll said. “Now we are less than a year away from moving into this new facility and putting all of that hard work into action.”

The new hospital will feature updated equipment along with 20 beds – 10 for the hospital’s emergency room and 10 for inpatient services – as well as a 24-hour emergency department and inpatient acute-care services.

Since the groundbreaking on the construction of the facility in July, there has been 1,100 cubic yards of concrete or 110 full trucks of concrete, 125 tons of steel with 110 major columns or beams, and 16 miles of conduit with 53 miles of conductors all put into the new facility. To date, a total of 9,000 man hours have gone into the project which is still on schedule to be finished in fall of 2018.

According to Carroll, the next stage of construction will include finishing the roof decking, installing the underground plumbing and electrical, pouring the concrete slab and then starting the exterior framing process. 

“It’s such an honor and I am so proud to stand before you today and celebrate the progress of this construction,” Carroll said.