COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The new Martin Army Community Hospital broke ground nearly two years ago at Fort Benning, and the new facility is on schedule to open on November 17 this fall.
"The new facility is going to be 745,000 square feet, and it is completed," Terry Beckwith, the chief of public affairs for Martin Army Hospital said. "The first one was about 350,000 square feet, so half the size of a new one. Having more space allowed us add private bathrooms and family areas in most of our patients' rooms to provide better service."
The new facility is composed of three buildings, so this will allow patients to receive their medical services in one stop. Beckwith said the new facility, new equipment, fixture and machines costed about $500 million.
"The initial contract of the building was about $350 million," Beckwith said. "After we purchased the equipment and all the fixtures that were necessary was half a billion."
"We are also hiring about 300 additional workers this year," Beckwith said. "We are looking to hire about 200 more doctors, nurses and pharmacists and about 100 additional potential staff members. Currently, we have about 2,026 employees, so hiring new people will vamp up our staff to about 2300 people."
Beckwith said the team is mostly excited about the new pharmacy.
"People won't have to wait as long as they did in the old hospital anymore," Beckwith said. "We will have more pharmacists and there is also a drop-off service. We are trying to help the patients get their prescription filled without having to wait too long."
Beckwith also spoke about the new MRI machines the hospital will have available for their patients.
"We are going to have two MRI's," Beckwith said. "A 1.5 Tesla MRI and a 3T MRI. This is going to help our doctors track traumatic brain injuries as well as other conditions..and this is going to help us treat our patients better."
Beckwith mentioned that parking used to be a problem in the past.
"We now have a visitor parking garage of 954 spaces, and we also have a separate staff parking lot with 1,023 spaces," Beckwith said. "We are hoping this will enhance our patients' travel to the hospital."
Currently, the team and the Veterans Administration are in the process of talking and negotiating the possibility of adding a veterans clinic to the hospital at the moment.
"Nothing is set in stone," Beckwith explained. "We are still negotiating, and hopefully we will have more news within the next few months."
Beckwith encourages patients to participate in their survey called the Army Provider Level Satisfaction Survey.
"We need people to fill them out, because they tell us what we need to improve. If patients fill that out and score it in certain way, we can actually get more dollars and use that to buy more equipment and hire staff members for the new hospital," Beckwith said.
Sam Nelson, the chairman of Chattahoochee Valley Veterans Council said he is hoping a veteran's clinic will be added to the new facility.
"We have one of the largest veteran's communities in the world," Nelson said. "But health care has always been lacking here. Martin Army is a great hospital, but it's time for it to expand. The need is here. I have fellow veterans who are 80 or 90 years old, and they have to travel to Tuskegee or Atlanta to get medical service. If we can get local help, this will save time and energy."