Medical Center to begin renovation project

  • Published
  • By Steve Pivnick
  • 81st Medical Group Public Affairs
Keesler Medical Center will undergo a major three-year renovation project that will greatly modernize health-care delivery and enhance the overall patient experience by providing truly world-class health-care facilities for the Keesler community.

The $68 million endeavor was awarded in August 2013 and began in October, with construction to follow in the fall of 2014. Estimated completion is expected in mid-2017.

The project realigns the outpatient specialty clinics on the second through fourth floors. It includes completely reworking the surgical floor with new state-of-the-art operating rooms and a new centralized minor procedures suite. Additionally, it will provide new hematology-oncology and dialysis suites and infusion center. It includes consolidation of the overall medical campus by moving the dental clinic and the mental health clinic into the medical center and divesting nearly 48,000 square feet of aging infrastructure. The project will attain silver certification according to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design - Commercial Interior standards.

An integrated design-build-outfitting team from the Air Force Surgeon General's Office Health Facilities Division, the primary contractor J.E. Dunn Construction and the architectural firm Hoefer Wysocki, both headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., kicked off the design and planning period in October beginning with clinical process, patient and staff flows.

Significant portions of the medical center date back to 1957. The current five-story 735,000-plus square foot structure has fragmented clinics and undersized, outdated health-care models, according to Kary Dickey, facility operation specialist with the 81st Medical Support Squadron facility management office, in collaboration with Maj. Matt Clugston, deputy chief, planning design and construction branch, Office of the Air Force Surgeon General Health Facilities Division, Air Force Medical Support Agency.

"This project will repair 164,000 square feet in the medical center and consolidate the dental health and mental health services into the hospital," Dickey said. The construction entails the relocation, reorganization and modernization of more than 20 departments consisting of clinical, surgical, administrative support and minor ancillary support spaces.

"They will renovate the old emergency room to ultimately accommodate Mental Health, though in the short-term, this area will serve as temporary phasing space for other entities," she continued. "The vast majority of the modernization effort will require complete demolition to the structure. The area currently containing medical specialties and internal medicine will become the new dental clinic, and is scheduled as the final build phase of the project.

At the other end of the building, the TRICARE operations and personnel administration areas, including medical records, will be affected.

Dickey said the vision is to completely demolish the interiors of the second floor for an additional two fully-integrated operatory rooms, a "hybrid OR" or endovascular suite, five specialty minor procedure rooms and all the necessary surgical support space. Additionally, the second floor A-wing will house the new general surgery, gastroenterology, vascular and urology clinics in a co-located, synergistic arrangement.

"The third floor, except for the family birthing center, and part of the fourth floor also will be demolished to make way for more modern facilities," Dickey stated. "Final location and configuration of all clinics and services are being vetted through design."

Explaining the dental and mental health clinic moves, Dickey said, "The dental clinic is a 1963 structure which has major building infrastructure requirements that drive the need for a replacement facility over repair. Replacement options have been pursued but had not received a favorable outcome. That is when we turned our focus to leveraging the medical center modernization for a unique opportunity to provide new state-of-the-art dental care facilities within the medical center footprint. The dental building is scheduled to be demolished at the conclusion of this project and the Arnold Medical Annex structure where the mental health clinic is located will be returned to the base for disposition following completion of the modernization project."

Dickey added that due to the medical center's age, its complex series of additions and alterations over the years and the inherent challenges in performing construction in a robust health-care facility, this project will be a challenging but extremely rewarding experience over the next three years.

"Being a part of such a drastic improvement to the health-care environment for our active duty, retirees, their families and veteran beneficiaries is a proud endeavor and I'm excited to get started,"she stated.