The first expansion of Fort Stewart’s Winn Army Community Hospital got under way Monday with a groundbreaking ceremony.
The $23.1 million project for the 29-year-old hospital will add more than 60,000 square feet to the 360,000-square-foot facility and is scheduled to be completed next fall.
“When this hospital opened its doors in 1983, it was said to be the most ultra-modern military hospital in the world,” said Col. Ronald J. Place, commander of Medical and Dental Activities Command for Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield and Winn ACH. “Back then, it had 65 hospital beds. But things have changed since then. We try very hard not to keep people in the hospital anymore. Winn’s going to see more changes over the next four or five years.”
Place said this first phase of expansion adds 65,000 square feet to the hospital, and another 1,000 square feet will be altered and renovated. He said the first floor of the new wing will house musculoskeletal functions, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, orthopedics and podiatry. The second floor will include a behavior health clinic and social work services, he said.
He invited military and community leaders attending the groundbreaking to return for the ribbon-cutting ceremony on the new addition in September 2013.
He told everyone to try to imagine what the next ultra-modern health-care facility will look like.
Col. Christopher Hughes, 3rd Infantry Division deputy commanding general for support, followed Place, first passing on congratulations from Maj. Gen. Robert Abrams, Stewart-Hunter and 3rd ID commander, who was unable to attend due to preparations for his August deployment to Afghanistan.
Describing himself as a military brat who later joined the Army, Hughes said he has always been under the medical care of military doctors.
“Trust is the critical cornerstone to who we are in the Army,” he said. “This groundbreaking ceremony helps to reinforce our trust in military medical care, which helps us be ready for or recover from war.”
Lt. Col. David London of Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District was on hand for the ceremony. Afterwards, he talked to reporters about the construction project, “courtesy” of the Army Corps of Engineers.
“It takes years to plan for a military construction project,” London explained as he pointed to the area now cleared for construction on the northwest side of the hospital. “As you can see, a lot of work has already been done to clear the area of temporary buildings. The (Army Corps of Engineers) welcomes the opportunity to make a fantastic facility for our soldiers and their families. We stand ready to build whatever Congress tells to build.”
A news release provided by the Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District public affairs office noted that a second phase of construction is scheduled for later this year and will include an emergency room addition and extensive renovations to the existing hospital.