Friday, April 16, 2010

OMHS Neighborhood Construction ceremony at school launches 'hospital for the future'

By Rich Suwanski, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Thursday, April 15, 2010 12:11 AM CDT
Even though Owensboro Medical Health System's new hospital build commenced last week when bulldozers moved earth at the Daniels Lane site, officials gathered at Meadow Lands Elementary School Wednesday for OMHS' Neighborhood Construction Kickoff.

The event took place in the school's gym where students assembled to hear remarks about the $385 million, three-year project taking place about a mile away.

Officials hope the community will be as excited as the students, who were out of class about an hour, as plans for the nine-story facility become reality.

The youngsters reacted enthusiastically when asked questions, at the entrance of TV character Bob the Builder and when the school's choir sang and cheerleaders performed.

"We're building a hospital for the future, and you are the future," said Jeff Barber, OMHS' president and CEO. "Our goal is to heal the sick and improve the health of the community. We have a good record of healing the sick. Improving the health of the community is something we want to do a much better job of.

"We want you to join us with a program over the next three years to improve all of our health -- individual health, family health and the health of the community."

As part of the ceremony, three-member teams from OMHS and Daviess County Public Schools had a relay race that included dribbling a basketball and doing bicep curls with light weights.

A 2.3-mile run/walk is set for 8 a.m. June 5 from OMHS' Parrish Avenue campus to the new hospital site.

Meanwhile, a lead-up to the run/walk will be the "Get Movin' 2013 Challenge" from April 19 to May 30. Teams are encouraged to join the competition at

Walkers and runners will log the minutes members walk or run each week, with prizes going to the winning teams.

County Judge-Executive Reid Haire praised the hospital board's courage and wisdom in guiding OMHS along the path to a new hospital, which he said will be an "economic driver" in the community. He said Daviess Fiscal Court and the Owensboro City Commission are "pleased to have played a role in the future of this institution."

Merrill Bowers, the project manager from Turner Construction, told students that in the next three to four months they'll see tractors moving dirt at the site, preparing for the build.

In the fall, steel will start going up as the building's frame, and in early 2011, workers will "start putting clothes on the building and you'll start to see how it's going to look as a finished product," Bowers said.

Bowers said work on Pleasant Valley Road and Daniels Lane would be coordinated with bus schedules and traffic to cause as little disruption as possible.

Bonnie Brown, manager of pastoral care at OMHS, asked students to offer a prayer or have good thoughts for the new hospital, particularly for worker safety.

The event wrapped up when the crowd went outdoors to see OMHS board member Billy Joe Miles and Barber get in a backhoe and grader and drive off with construction workers toward the construction site.