By Rebecca Rose
Harker Heights Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS — As the official opening of the new Seton Medical Center draws closer, representatives revealed a timetable this week for preliminary hirings as well as news about road construction projects planned for the area surrounding the hospital.
Seton representatives, including Chief Executive Officer Matthew Maxfield, conducted an informal town hall meeting Wednesday to discuss what kinds of services and features people could expect when the hospital opens next fall.
“We want people to understand that we are a community hospital,” said Melissa Purl, director of marketing for Seton. “We want people to know that they can ask questions about our services that we are going to have and the type of people that will be working here.
“We will have 300 people working here when we first open. Within the first year, that number will jump to 600. That’s based on bed size of the hospital.”
Maxfield said initial hiring efforts would be focused in the hospital’s information technology department and expand from there. He said the hospital would start hiring for those positions in November, for a January start.
Maxfield said the bulk of the hiring process would occur between April and May of 2012. He said the hospital would employ about 30 people by January and about 50 by April.
Eight physicians already have been recruited. Maxfield estimated that Seton will have 60 to 80 doctors on staff the day the facility opens.
He said they are expecting to recruit between 30 and 35 physicians who will relocate to the Harker Heights area within the first two years.
Maxfield elaborated on road construction projects planned for the area.
“It is very difficult to get in and out of (our site) right now, because of the traffic,” Maxfield said. “Very soon, that is going to change.”
The Texas Department of Transportation “is about to make some changes on (U.S.) 190,” he said. “There will be a new overpass and controlled lights at Rosewood, which will be a new exit at 190, when you’re headed east.”
“They’ll move the Knight’s Way exit down in front of us, so we’re going to have a lot easier in and out of that facility, once the work is completed.”
Maxfield said he met with representatives from TxDOT last week to review plans for the road projects, estimated to last about 24 months.
Plans also include a new lane on Central Texas Expressway to accommodate traffic entering and exiting the facility.
Purl said a new deceleration lane is in the process of being built. As of Wednesday, orange cones could be seen on the street, marking the position of the planned lane.
Purl said they were grading the lane this week and would start construction as early as next week.
Construction on the main hospital building so far has involved 130 workers on the site, with a total of 47,980 man-hours, Purl said.
The main facility will be a 192,400-square-foot, three-story acute care hospital, with 83 beds at start-up. The hospital will eventually have 138.
Maxfield said the first two floors would be finished, with the third floor utilized as what he termed “shelled conditioned space,”
“That means it’s ready to go,” he explained. “If we want to put another 55 beds up there, we can do that very quickly.”
The building is also designed to add a fourth floor to accommodate another 62 beds.
“All the rooms are private rooms in the facility,” Maxfield pointed out.
The adjacent medical pavilion will be a 60,000-square-foot, three-story complex, featuring a sleep lab and various medical offices.
Seton will be a paperless hospital, featuring iPads for doctors, electronic health records, wireless telemetry and wireless phones for nurses and ancillary staff.
A women’s center with labor, delivery, recovery and post-partum services will be located at Seton.
Specialities include acute care, internal medicine, intensive and critical care, cardiology, nephrology, plastic surgery, neurology and gastroenterology.
Mayor Mike Aycock, who spoke at the town hall, explained how the facility is important to the city. He said the city commissioned an economic study that showed an estimated economic impact of $1.5 billion over the next 10 years.
“That’s huge for our city,” he said. “The city is a big jigsaw puzzle. You have to have quality of life, infrastructure, things like that. To have (growth), we have to have certain pieces in the puzzle. Seton Hospital is part of that puzzle.”
For more information on employment or progress of the construction, go to www.setonharkerheights.org.