"It's like the halfway mark in a marathon or something. And here we are. We're here."
That's Phoebe Hospital CEO Keith Petersen on the steel topping out ceremony for the new Phoebe Sumter Hospital in Americus.
Tornadoes basically destroyed Sumter Regional in 2007, leaving the Americus community without a permanent hospital.
But today is a new day.
"This gives us a permanent home and it will enable us to establish what we believe will be the finest small hospital in America," said Petersen.
In addition to offering traditional medical services, the new hospital will include a Wellness and Education Center, Women's Health Center, and Oncology and Surgery Center.
City leaders, hospital officials, construction workers, and even the Georgia Southwestern State mascot autographed the final beam of the main building's steel superstructure.
The general contracting firm of Brasfield and Gorrie utilizes the latest in environmentally-friendly technology, like underground tanks that store water runoff.
"It's a great opportunity to give back to the environment and to promote that and Brasfield and Phoebe have worked closely to make sure a lot of those opportunities are implemented in the hospital," said Brian Smith of B&G..
Phoebe tentatively expects the new hospital to be completed around December of 2011. Just to give you an idea of the project's scale, the new hospital will have 42,000 light bulbs and over 300 miles of wiring.
Besides providing medical care, Phoebe expects the hospital to be a major source of jobs and revenue for the local community.
"In the last year, we've stabilized healthcare in Americus/Sumter County and there will be growth that will come as the hospital opens," said Petersen.