Tri-County Hospital shows first drawing

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By Jeff M. Hardison

Ameris Health Systems President and Chief Operating Officer K. Robert Bauer Jr. and Tri-County Hospital President Frank Schupp showed a group of people the first architect's rendering of the hospital on Feb. 22.

Gathered in a conference room at Drummond Community Bank, local government leaders saw Tri-County Hospital is going to be two stories tall.

The foundation for the building is being constructed to be able to support a third story, Bauer said.

Architect David Johnson of Nashville created this first draft. The choice to go higher, Bauer said, results from being on a 20-acre site. Parking space is a premium at any hospital, he said. Going vertical with the building helps provide for that need.

The hospital floor plan shows 54 initial beds are in three sections on the second floor. The plan shows another 18 beds in a separate section in the future. Four of those beds are "special care." This hospital does not have an intensive care unit, Bauer said.

Bauer stressed that the hospital is not a trauma center. People who suffer multiple-organ injuries from car crashes will be stabilized and transported to Gainesville or Ocala by helicopter or ambulance.

A helipad is planned to be on the site, which is on Levy County Road 320 east - behind Wal-Mart.

All of the rooms will be private, Bauer said. The interior and exterior look of the hospital is more pleasing than the typical clinical box of a hospital. It is more like a home, inside and out, he said.

This rendering is just the first draft, Bauer said. Ameris welcomes comments, because at this point it can be easily changed. Bulldozers may be seen on the property as early as October. In April of 2010, the $45 million Tri-County Hospital is anticipated to open.

The first floor includes six beds for obstetrics. The emergency room will be next to the diagnostic imaging center, Bauer said. Also on the first floor will be operating rooms, laboratories, dietary services and other ancillary functions, Schupp said. The second floor is only for patients' rooms.

Among the dignitaries at the showing were Levy County Commissioner Sammy Yearty and Dixie County Commissioner Buddy Lamb. Schupp called the men "bulldogs" for their work to help bring the hospital closer to fruition.

Nothing has pulled the Tri-County Area together more than this hospital, Lamb said.

"It's a bona fide unifying effort," Lamb said, adding that Tri-County Hospital promises to serve many generations of people in decades to come.