Work is well under way on another new addition for the Sweetwater Hospital Association (SHA).

Including the basement, the new 28,000-square-foot addition will consist of four floors.

This latest addition will provide for the expansion of Dr. Ken Kozawa’s clinic, which will be on the first floor. The second floor is designated for new medical/surgical, private patient rooms with private baths. The third floor of the new structure will be a new intensive care unit (ICU) suite that will allow for larger ICU rooms with private baths and room to accommodate patient families. The third floor will also include isolation rooms and a family room for physical consultation a well as space for additional storage.

The basement floor is undesignated space at this time except for mechanical and electrical equipment.

SHA Administrator Scott Bowman and Chief Financial Officer Debbie Thompson, who serves as the project manager for this addition, say completion of this new building will bring its own great benefits. However, it will allow for continued updates and remodeling throughout the hospital that will include new placement for nursing stations.

Nothing happens at SHA by accident. As with all its other new major construction in the last 12 years from the ER in 2007, the new campus centerpiece in 2014 and the new professional building in 2016, the hospital will pay as it goes on the project to stay debt free.

“We have made a lot of unique decisions that have worked at well for us,” Bowman said.

Lewis Group is the architect on the latest project and H-S Whitson Construction Inc. is the contractor. Sweetwater Hospital itself is a licensed contractor and does much of its remodeling work in-house.

The hospital is licensed to use 59 beds but is currently only using 53 beds. Thompson and Bowman said this new building will allow the hospital to go back to having 59 available beds. A major goal of the project is to have all-private rooms, they said.

There is no set date for completion on the project. Bowman and Thompson said the building shell will cost about $7.5 million to build.

The hospital involves its entire staff in the planning of any construction project. The hospital keeps its employees updated on construction progress. The hospital also keeps nearby First Baptists Church updated on the construction ongoing just across the street from the church.

Unlike some businesses during construction, the hospital can’t just shut down certain operations.

“We work around our operations,” Thompson said.

“Our goal is to be the least disruptive as possible to the operation of the hospital,” Bowman said.

With the hospital being so busy, with 400 to 700 patient registrations a day on the entire campus, construction and remodeling will always be a way of life. Plans are in the works to increase the ER’s number of beds from 15 to 19 and SHA in the future will have a new backup electric generation system that will back up all of the hospital’s power during outages, not just the essential electrical functions.

Sweetwater Mayor Doyle Lowe said many people who move to Sweetwater say they move to the area because of the hospital.

Bowman said the hospital employees 500 people and has a $19 million payroll. Bowman said SHA is very proud of its efforts to keep the best and brightest people working at the hospital. A special program that pays for employee’s college education has benefited at least 200 people.

Many colleges and universities send students to train at SHA with at least 14 colleges and universities represented currently at the hospital.

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