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Topping Out ceremony marks Ketchikan Medical Center milestone



March 13, 2015
Friday PM

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - Construction of PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center’s new surgery and medical office building took an important symbolic step forward on Wednesday, when the final i-beam for the steel skeleton of the 4- story building was hoisted aloft amid cheers and applause. The Topping Out ceremony took on added meaning with the participation of PeaceHealth CEO Alan Yordy, who will be retiring in June.

jpg Topping Out ceremony marks Ketchikan Medical Center milestone

Beam and flags being raised for The Topping Out ceremony on March 11, 2015
Photo courtesy KMC

“This vision of what we’re now seeing come to fruition began many years ago. Nothing of this scope and caliber can happen without everyone pulling together. In the early days of considering what could be done to make this vision work, Mayor Williams, the City Council and the community were extraordinarily helpful,” said Yordy during his comments. “Former Governor Parnell and state leaders protected money in the state budget and Lisa Murkowski made sure there was federal help along the way. But most importantly, the citizens of this community showed an extraordinary vote of confidence. For all of you who played a role; a deep and profound thank you.”

Layton representative Ryan Maguire explained the significance of the tree in the Topping Out ceremony, “In Scandinavia in 600 AD they would raise an evergreen to the top of their timber structures as an offering to the gods who dwell in the trees to say thank you for the materials that built the structure. Today, we raise the last steel i-beam to the highest point in the framing of the building. The evergreen tree is placed on the beam as a representation of life and growth.”

In addition to the Sitka Spruce tree, the American and State of Alaska flags were added to the beam as a symbol of patriotism and to recognize the critical role played by the State of Alaska by contributing to the project’s funding. Maguire also noted that the timing of the Topping Out puts the project right on schedule for a May 2016 completion.

Workers Lowering Beam...
Photo courtesy KMC

Steel contractor, Sure Steel, was recognized for their significant efforts on this segment of the construction project. Project manager Dowl HKM was also noted for their leadership in getting the project safely and smoothly to this point. Various subcontractors who have worked on the project to this point were also recognized including First City Electric, Schmolck Mechanical, Ketchikan Mechanical, and BAM Construction.

Ketchikan Mayor Lew Williams thanked the community for seeing what the project could do for everybody in the community saying, “By helping to provide more state-of-the-art medical services, it makes this a better place for all of us, improving our quality of life.”

Reflection and prayers were offered by hospital chaplain Sister Arnadene Bean and by Sister Andrea Nenzel, who lived and served in Ketchikan for a number of years and now serves on the local and system governing boards of PeaceHealth.

“The placement of this beam caps our structures height, but not our vision of what this building will be and mean to the community and patients we serve,” said Chief Administrative Officer Ken Tonjes. “Many of you here today had a direct role in making this happen through your voice, your vote, your dedication and passion. This building represents our collective vision to have high quality healthcare right here, at or near home, by caregivers we know and trust.”

After the beam is in place, the last workers sign their names...
Photo courtesy KMC

The ceremony honored all who made the construction project happen; celebrating the health and safety record of the construction project thus far. Tonjes concluded by referring to the project as an investment in our future health, recognizing it as a tremendous accomplishment by the builders of our future, and thanking everyone who was involved in the project to date.

As the owner of the hospital building and land, the City of Ketchikan is responsible for the maintenance and construction costs associated with the facilities. The City constructed the current building in 1963, which has been operated by Peacehealth since that time. Previously known as Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, PeaceHealth has been operating hospitals in Ketchikan since 1923.

Sitka Spruce tree, the American and State of Alaska flags were added to the beam as a symbol of patriotism... Written on the beam, "The Spirit of Healing" and the signatures of numerous people who worked on the project...
Photo courtesy KMC

The expansion project for the new surgical center, the new medical clinic and additional parking required the City of Ketchikan to issue general obligation bonds for $43 million. The original project costin 2013, from design to building completion, was $62 million; however, the City was able to secure several grants for a third of the project costs. This includes a $1 million federal grant for design development, a $3 million State of Alaska grant for construction- ready documents, and a $15 capital allocation from the State for construction. At current interest rates, the debt is intended to be paid through the 1% Hospital Sales Tax, which is an already existing sales tax, it is not a new tax. The 1% Hospital Sales Tax has existed for more than 50 years and is collected each time someone buys something in the city along with the existing 2 1/2% Borough sales taxes, the 1% Safety, and the 1 1/2% Public Works taxes.

The Ketchikan Medical Center Hospital Construction Bond was approved by the voters in November 2013.


Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews

Sources of News: 

PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center

City of Ketchikan
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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

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