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Operation concrete: area hospitals expand

Construction projects are changing the look of Medford's two hospitals.

A four-story parking garage soon will be completed at Rogue Valley Medical Center, and workers at Providence Medford Medical Center have finished the demolition phase of a project that will expand the hospital's emergency department and medical laboratory.

RVMC's parking garage, just west of the Smullin Center, is the first component of a three-year, &

36;93 million project that will include a larger emergency department, improved surgery suites and more single-occupant rooms in an elliptical four-level bed tower.

Providence will spend about &

36;5.4 million to nearly double the size of its emergency department by 2005. The project also provides substantially more space for the hospital's lab equipment.

— Growing demand for emergency-room services prompted both hospitals to expand their emergency departments. In recent years, emergency room visits to both hospitals have grown by about 8 percent per year. Providence served about 25,000 emergency patients during 2002; Rogue Valley saw about 33,500.

Workers plan to pour the last big batch of concrete for RVMC's parking garage next Tuesday, said Bill Maibusch, construction supervisor for DPR Construction, the general contractor. Workers plan to finish the garage by Nov. 1, but hope to open the ground floor sometime in September to provide more parking space close to the hospital.

Maibusch said a string of 100-degree days in late July forced workers to take extra care to prevent concrete from drying too quickly.

You don't want it to dry out too fast, Maibusch said, or you'll get excessive cracking.

Workers slowed the concrete's drying by mixing it with cold water, and pouring water over the reinforcing steel to cool the metal just prior to burying it in fresh concrete. They also kept the concrete moistened with water while it dried.

Maibusch said workers plan to finish the hospital's new helicopter landing site by Nov. 1, and then start on the new patient rooms.

At Providence, crews have finished demolition work that clears the way for a new emergency department and medical laboratory, along with a new building to house the hospital's MRI machine.

Providence spokeswoman Deborah Elliott said the outer shell of the new emergency department waiting room should be finished by the end of November.

Access to the Providence emergency department from Crater Lake Avenue will remain unchanged during the construction. A small dark-gray temporary building with dark blue trim will serve as the emergency department's admitting area during the construction.

Construction workers pour concrete onto a new parking garage under construction at Rogue Valley Medical Center Tuesday. Workers hope to open the ground floor in September and finish the garage by Nov. 1. Mail Tribune / Jim Craven - Mail Tribune Jim Craven