By Sonya Campbell

Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS — A new option for health care, more than 1,960 new jobs and an estimated total economic impact of $1.1 billion in the region by 2022 are the anticipated results following the opening of Seton Medical Center Harker Heights, according to LHP Hospital Group and the Seton Family of Hospitals.

The state-of-the-art facility is set to open by fall 2012.

Within the first year, the hospital expects to have 500 employees and twice as many by 2017.

“Seton Medical Center Harker Heights is just the type of hospital we want in our community,” Harker Heights Mayor Ed Mullen said in a press release. “Our residents and neighbors will have access to excellent care right at their doorstep and benefit from the new jobs and economic growth the hospital will bring.”

Groundbreaking

On Monday, hundreds of people braved windy and dusty conditions to attend a groundbreaking ceremony at the build site, 850 W. Central Expressway in Harker Heights.

Those in attendance included elected officials, physicians, nurses, educators, community leaders, military leaders and others. They were treated to a barbecue buffet while the Harker Heights High School orchestra performed.

Several speakers were on hand, including LHP Hospital Group Chairman Denny

Shelton, who described the project as a collaborative effort and promised the building will “go up pretty quick.”

He noted the opening of the hospital, not the groundbreaking, would be the exciting part of the project.

Seton Family of Hospitals President and CEO Charles J. Barnett described the company’s standards: a commitment to community service, a commitment to working with the community and a hospital dedicated to meeting the area’s needs.

Officials from Killeen, Temple, Harker Heights, Belton, Copperas Cove, Kempner and Lampasas presented stones from their respective communities, which will be incorporated into the design of the new medical center. Sister Helen Brewer, Daughters of Charity chairwoman, also provided a stone.

The stones are meant to symbolize community collaboration and support.

About the medical center

The 192,400-square-foot, 83-bed facility, designed by Ascension Group Architects, will be built by Layton Construction Co.

The medical center will offer a full-service emergency department, intensive and critical care, women’s services including obstetrics, gynecology, a Level II nursery and digital mammography, cardiology, interventional cardiology, oncology, orthopedics, neurosurgery, and imaging and diagnostic services.

Also, the center will feature minimally invasive surgical suites, a catheterization laboratory and electronic medical records.

Harker Heights Medical Pavilion, a 60,000-square-foot medical office building scheduled to open next summer, will be built adjacent to the medical center.

Redina Companies, one of the largest full-service health care real estate firms, is developing the building in joint ownership with several specialists who will occupy offices there.

Patients will have access to a number of medical specialties under one roof: family practice, internal medicine, cardiology, general surgery, orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, plastic surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, gastroenterology, otolaryngology, nephrology, neurology, oncology, rheumatology and urology.

“Seton Medical Center Harker Heights represents the culmination of three years of groundwork undertaken by a group of physicians who represent the majority of private practitioners in Bell County and surrounding areas,” said Dr. Charles Day, president, Killeen Investment Partners LLC. “Support for the project has been unwavering and signifies an overwhelming recognition that diversity and choice in the delivery of health care have been needed for some time. LHP and Seton are the right partners at the right time. We are all looking forward to providing care to the local population as cooperative partners focusing on excellence.”

Dr. Jeffery Kroll, president of King’s Daughters Clinic, said, “This is a great day for Bell County and surrounding counties.”

He said the facility would offer “the highest quality of care” and would treat patients and their families with compassion, dignity and respect.

For more information about the facility, go to www.setonharkerheights.org.